Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Friend Me by John Faubion

About the book: 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.

Read an excerpt and purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/taPkJ 

Learn more about John at: http://christiansuspense.com

Landing page: 

About the author: 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.
My thoughts:
I was intrigued to read this book because it reminded me a bit of the premise for the movie Her which is in theaters now where a man falls in love with the operating system for his phone.  What makes a person real and what do we lose when we rely on devices and technology instead of face to face meetings for relationships and interactions.  Plus there have been other science fiction movies and books that have humanized robots which is always a bit disturbing!
Rachel feels isolated and alone and misses her husband Scott who often comes home from work late.  Her best friend passed away two years ago from cancer and she misses her.  One day, while on Facebook, she sees a sidebar ad for something called Virtual Friend Me.  When she goes there she meets Jane, a computer version of a person who looks real who introduces her to the possibilities for the site.  You have a whole range of options to create your own friend and can even recreate a loved one you miss.  Upload pictures and digital voice recordings and the site will make you a friend you can interact with face to face on the screen, on Facebook, through email or even texts.  After the first thirty days, if you want to be able to interact with your new friend face to face you have to start paying a $15 fee.  Rachel recreates her friend, Suzanne, and then shows Scott what she has done.
Scott is having some rough day at work and feels like he can't tell Rachel about what is going on because it will cause her to worry so he decides to try out the site himself and create a friend.  But Scott goes in a different direction.  When prompted to pick male or female, he choose female.  Then out of the array of options from colleague to friend to intimate he makes the last option his choice.  From there he starts to become a bit obsessed with his new friend, spending every lunch hour in his car parked somewhere that has wi-fi so he can chat with and watch his friend.
At this point it bothered me that both Rachel and Scott could have looked to each other for their needs or befriended someone new.  Rachel could have tried to click with another mom at preschool drop off or at the gym she goes to a couple times a week.  Scott could have taken his work worries to a buddy, since in selecting his option for Alicia (his virtual friend) he thought about how he had enough male friends.
Adding suspense to the story is Melissa, a very technologically smart but broken inside woman who is in charge of the company that runs Virtual Friend Me.  When he programs target Scott as he ideal love match she starts to take over the computer programs for the couple, allowing herself to play both Suzanne and Alicia and drive wedges between the couple, widening the cracks that are already there.
The end quarter of the book is very fast moving, but I don't want to say too much about it!  I liked the way the book was developed and how it shows some of the unsavory aspects of computerized interactions.  I felt at times the author missed the mark with some of the aspects of the female characters.  At one point at the gym the women are working out to Richard Simmons.  I have done plenty of time at gyms or with videos at home and he has been out of vogue for quite some time now.  Also he kept calling workout gear "exercise outfits", a term I don't usually think of for clothing and I think only older women wear matching tops and bottoms to work out in. I rarely wear the same color for both unless it is black and even usually not then.  These issues were minor, but they just jumped out at me.  Also, I was a bit unsure at one point why the characters were using cameras when they had cell phones, it seems like most of the time people now use their phones as their cameras.


No comments:

Post a Comment