Review Title: Don't Go There (a review of Friend Me by John Faubion)
Reviewer: Janice S. Garey
**** 4 Stars
This book will hold your attention and at points take you to the limit of how much suspense you can bear. I was surprised by the high qualifty of writing and plotting from this debut novelist. The author is good with his craft. I would have given it a five star, but the ending was a bit confusing, and did not have a finely tuned resolution. My husband read this novel to me while we commuted to and from the office. He felt disappointed at the end, but otherwise thoroughly enjoyed this author's writing.
I especially liked the way the author addresses current issues in our world that are pulling the threads that bind out of the families who don't always choose wisely from a multitude of entertainment options. Thread by thread, the family in this book was being pulled apart by going with the worldly temptations for escape rather than addressing problems head on and making needed corrections. Most husbands and wives will be able to relate at least to some of the issues brought forth in this book. Of course, for novelty's sake, and to hold the reader's attention, the plot has very extreme consequences to show what could feasibly happen when people jump ship from God's direction and plans. This is a bit of a warning kind of book, but it is not in any sense a preachy book. Because of the author's background, I thought it might be a bit more preachy, but I assure you that you will not find it to be so.
I won this book on another author's blog site. I recommend it to all who are mature and enjoy suspense. It has a strong message about the family in regards to what pulls it apart and also how a husband and wife must become a united force to keep the family together.
Melissa Montalvo is an ambitious young software development specialist who has just been given her dream jobâ€”a project to create virtual online friends in an IT start-up, working on the next Facebook or SecondLifeâ€”only better. The friend you can share anything with, because they're not real. More intimate.
Rachel and Scott Douglas are the parents of two small children. Rachel is a stay-at-home mom who feels isolatedâ€”her husband works all hours in his job as an investment advisor, and she doesn't have any close friends. So when she finds a new website, VirtualFriendMe, she is intrigued enough to sign upland recreate her best friend, Suzanneâ€”who died two years ago. There should be something inherently creepy about creating a virtual version of a dead person, but the author manages to make this seem not only believable, but a logical course of action.
Meanwhile, Scott is feeling the pressure at work, and decides to create his own virtual friend after Rachel tells him about the site. Only Scott chooses a female friend, Alicia. She's loving and supportive and he can tell her anything. She seems almost real. Then he sees someone in real life who looks like Aliciaâ€”coincidence, surely _
Friend Me was a mix of Single White Female and The Net, with shades of Nick Lesson's real-life story. Parts of it made awkward reading, as in many ways Melissa was the best character. She was intelligent, hardworking and ambitious, a woman succeeding in a male-dominated industry. There was just the problem of her warped ethics and questionable business practices.
In contrast, Rachel's life ambition was to get married and be a mother. To paraphrase the current retirement planning campaign with my bank, a man is not a life plan. In the author interview at the end, Fabion said she was the hardest character to write. It showed, in that Rachel was the character I had least sympathy for (which is curious, as I'm also a wife and mother. Perhaps that was because Rachel let her family role be her whole identity, and that seems unhealthy. But now I'm trying to psychoanalyse a fictional character, a virtual person if you like).
I thought Rachel was immature and needy, worrying that she wasn't a good enough wife and mother (don't we all?). The couple are supposed to be Christians, but there's little mention of God, church or prayer, and it felt like Rachel was trying to please Scott and herself, not God. In contrast, Scott read his Bible at work _ at least until he created Alicia.
Friend Me is a sobering reminder of how seemingly small acts can have unintended and unforseen consequences, as Scott and Rachel find. It's an excellent first novel, with good characters that invite the reader to feel a range of emotions, and an unusual suspense plot that raises some interesting issues. Not for the faint-hearted. Recommended.
Thanks to Litfuse Publicity and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
John Faubion in his new book, "Friend Me" published by Howard Books brings us into the lives of Scott and Rachel Douglas.
From the Back Cover: "You're afraid you are becoming unfaithful, aren't you?"
Scott and Rachel's marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. But neither realizes that there's a much larger problem looming. . . .
Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliantâ€” and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the Virtual Friend Me software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it allâ€”Scott, his family, and Rachel's life.
As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it's a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it's too late.
Stress and poor communication at home can lead to the spouses drawing even further from each other and unfaithfulness. They finally build a social platform where you can build your own friend and eliminate the need for picking and choosing friends on other sites. Are you still being unfaithful even though the female you are communicating with supposedly doesn't exist? How does this new friend change the dynamic in your marriage? What will you do when this friend tries to destroy it? These are the questions Mr. Faubion sets out to answer in this very exciting thriller. He also gives us a chilling look at the dangers of the Internet and social websites. We need real friends, real individuals who can understand us and be there for us when we need them and we can be there when they need us. "Friend Me" is an exciting page turner that will keep you reading and flipping pages as fast as possible. Don't start this book late at night because it will cost you sleep as you will not want to put it down. Mr. Faubion has given us characters that are marvelous, meticulously crafted, and each one literally breathes on the pages. "Friend Me" is a well done novel that I liked a lot.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I thoroughly enjoyed Friend Me! It was such a unique way to deliver the message of faithfulness in a marriage with a twist!
The overall concept of John Faubion's debut is an interesting one! The company Virtual Friend Me felt so realistic and it's effects on society, especially how Scott enters into a virtual relationship in the first place! However despite that the company is not real, I really appreciated one of the big messages in this novel concerning virtual relationships of today. Just because it's online and doesn't seem real, it doesn't mean that a person is remaining faithful to their spouse. As with Scott's interactions with his online "girl" it quickly became something more then just needing a friend. She began to consume his very thoughts and take time away from his family because he felt she was perfect in every way of meeting his needs (all except the physical).
One of the biggest things I took from this novel was that it's important to guard your heart against temptation. It may seem that the marriage lost some of it's "sparkle" since the wedding day, but being content with your spouse and being grateful for them is key into not looking elsewhere.
I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars since near the latter part of the book I felt things were sometimes a little rushed, such as Rachel discovering everything so quickly. However, I still highly recommend Friend Me to anyone who enjoys a good suspense novel with a message of the importance of faithfulness in marriage as well as forgiveness!
*(Thank you Litfuse for letting me receive a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review! All thoughts expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review!)*
With the growth of the internet and all of the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I guess it is only a matter a time before an actual site like the one mentioned in this book comes to fruition. It is with that thought in mind, that I couldn't wait to dive into this book.
Scott and Rachel have hit a rut in their marriage. Rachel spends her day caring for their child and Scott spends his day at work supporting his family. Both of them feel they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing to make their marriage work, but they are both falling short of a fulfilling marriage. Rachel finds a website that offers to "recreate" lost ones from the past and she sets out to "recreate" her friend Suzanne. As she builds her best friend, the realism intrigues Scott. Scott, though, creates someone to listen to him, a female companion. After Scott starts building his friend, parameters within the software alert the programmer that her "dream guy" is looking for someone. As she begins to sculpt herself into Scott's virtual friend, the drama begins to spiral out of control. Is Rachel's virtual friend real? Does Scott cross the line with his virtual friend? Can their real marriage survive what's happening in the virtual world? Find out the answer to these great questions when you BUY THE BOOK!
This is the first book by John Faubion and definitely looks like it won't be his last. The tension and stress that he writes into his characters are so real allowing the reader the chance to "see" themselves or loved ones that they know in those roles. He has created some memorable characters in Rachel and Scott. Not because of some outlandish lifestyle, but because they came across as real people just like the rest of us. The storyline flowed smoothly and while the author may have taken some creative freedom when it came to describing the technology behind the "friends", I don't think that the reality isn't too far behind.
Is this a "Guy's Book"? This is a great book and should be read by anybody, man or woman. This will hopefully open up some eyes to those that say, "it isn't real, so who's it really hurting?"