Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Friend Me by John Faubion

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book for free from the publisher through the Litfuse Publicity Group book  blogger campaign and 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.”


About the Book: (Information taken directly from LitFuse Publicity's Promotions page.)

When a lonely wife and her frustrated husband each secretly pursue companionship online, neither dreams that a real woman is behind their virtual creations, threatening their marriage—and their lives.
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. As Rachel desperately tries to re-create a friendship with a friend who has passed, Scott becomes unfaithful and is torn between the love for his wife and the perfection of his cyber-girlfriend. But neither realizes that there’s a much larger problem looming…
Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant—and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the virtual friend 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 all—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.
In today’s digital age, the Internet presents all kinds of opportunities to test our personal boundaries, and this exciting and suspenseful story raises important questions about the ethics of virtual relationships. Friend Me will open your eyes to a new—and terrifying—moral dimensions and how they play out in the real world.

Author: John Faubion  (Information taken directly from LitFuse Publicity's Promotions page.)

John Faubion has spent many years in Asia as a missionary with his family. Since returning to the United States, John has worked as a senior software developer for a large appliance chain. He teaches an adult Sunday school class and enjoys writing and driving his 1949 Packard automobile. John lives near Indianapolis with his wife, Beth, and their daughter.

Format: trade paperback

Genre: Christian, Suspense, Fiction

Source: Litfuse Publicity Group book blogger campaign 

Published: Simon and Schuster / $14.99 / 2014 / ISBN:978-1-4767-3872-7

Stalk the Author: Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Blog

Buy the Book:  Amazon / Christianbook / Other Sellers

Read an excerpt here.

Why I Read this Book:  I am a fan of all things mystery and suspense because I enjoy the aspect of trying to figure out all of the "pieces" and how they are interwoven to form the story.  I saw the request for reviewers of Friend Me, and once I read the synopsis, I was hooked!  After all, who wouldn't want a friend that was low maintenance and cared about the things happening only in my life?

What I Liked:  The concept of virtual friendships and relationships has always intrigued me because I am a recluse at heart.  I love the idea that I could type information into the computer and "create" a personal friend that I could "talk" to about my day-especially when it's been extremely stressful and my regular friends are tired of listening to me whine. 

Scott and Rachel are ordinary people who are trying to make a living for their small family.  Their relationship is not as exuberant as it used to be and they're drifting apart each day.  Hmmm...sounds like most marriages out there--which is what I like about this book. Mr. Faubion makes his characters as realistic as possible--even down to their thoughts and actions on a daily basis.

As I learned more about Scott, Rachel, and their virtual "friends," I was sucked more and more into the manipulation and was trying to figure out how to warn them of the impending disaster about to take place in their lives and possibly keep them apart forever.

Another dimension of the story was that of the Christian family values.  I loved the fact that Scott and Rachel were depicted as having problems and succumbed to temptations like the rest of the Christians in the real world.  Too many times, Christianity in novels is portrayed as having the perfect life and that nothing goes wrong for the characters.  I'm glad that Mr. Faubion didn't shy away from the hard questions--what constitutes cheating and is it considered cheating if the person isn't real?--and offers a way for the characters to be redeemed, just as Christ did for us.

What I Didn't Like:  Knowing the dangers of the "Internet" is something that is foremost in my mind--especially as a single female.  I used to play Second Life, and while roaming around in the virtual premise of the world, it was still creepy to think that the "virtual people" there were really other individuals on their computers playing and talking with me at the same time.   Having experienced that cyber-world, I can completely envision this scenario taking place, especially with more and more people learning how to program and "create" virtual worlds at younger and younger ages. 

As a single woman, I am constantly being  pressured to form more "meaningful relationships" with the "friends" I have online.  Reading Friend Me gives me the exact reason NOT to give out as much personal information to these virtual friends because sometimes relationships, whether real or imagined, are taken to the extreme. Faubion's imagined scenario scared me a little too much and I am now going to be a less likely to trust virtual programs/people due to imagining the "psycho" behind the computer at the other end.  

Overall Impression:  Friend Me is John Faubion's first novel and he definitely hit a home run!  The suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat and you will not want to put this book down until you have turned the last page!  Run to your nearest bookstore or have Friend Me  rush delivered to your door--you will not be disappointed! 

5 out of 5 

Let me know what you think!  Happy Reading! 

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