Reading: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Even better than the TV show, and a lot less confusing. Very deep characters go through an unconventional wellness retreat and are changed forever—though not the way you'd expect.

Reading History

First Read: March 25, 2022 - March 30, 2022
Reading Counter: 1

Rating: 4.5 - Amazing.

Summary & Thoughts

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

A group of nine strangers signs up for a wellness retreat at Tranquillum House. There, they have to give up screens and processed foods, alcohol, and such, and follow a strict schedule. They meditate, they get massages, they go for walks. After five days of "Noble Silence," they get served a smoothie that contains a mixture of drugs. Most of them take LSD and mushrooms, while the couple there for couple therapy takes LSD and Ecstasy. They go through hallucinogenic experiences, each having revelations about their specific issues.

But then things take a darker turn. They wake up locked into the room where they did yoga and meditation, a dark windowless room in the basement. Yao, one of the attendants ("wellness consultant") and Marsha, the resort owner, argue about letting them out. It was supposed to be a team-building exercise where they find a clue and open the door, but it takes them far longer and they stay there for more than a day.

Marsha goes a little nuts, taking a larger dose of LSD after not having eaten for however long—she can't even remember. She threatens them, makes them play weird games, and in the end pretends to burn the whole place down. They all face their death, together, but in the end realize it's a recording and a burning trash can.

They get out of the room—the door had been unlocked hours ago—and find Yao and the police already waking from them. Marsha had drugges Yao, sent away her staff, but one of her staff members put two and two together after the second wellness consultant fled in one of the guest's Lamborghini. They spend an evening together, laughing and eating, and forming deeper bonds.

In the end, there are a lot of time jumps, revealing the future of each character. I don't like epilogues but this one was well done.

The book switches perspective frequently from one guest to the next to Marsha and the wellness consultants. In the epilogue, it even switches to Marsha's ex-husband. I am usually skeptical when there are too many voices and while it sometimes took a few sentences to realize who was "talking," it was very well done.

Kate Hildenbrand

Kate Hildenbrand

Kate Hildenbrand is the writer behind the essays here, author of fiction novels, the creator of the Kate Hildenbrand podcast, and a student of marine ecology. At least, that's her on the surface.
Germany