Friend Me by John Faubion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“She isn’t real. . . right?”
lonely wife and a frustrated husband create virtual online friends,
trying to deal with the pressures of a marriage gone flat, and a
Torn between his love for his wife, and the perfection of his virtual girlfriend, he becomes unfaithful.
dream that behind the screen is a single real woman, masquerading both
as friend and lover. She is determined to have the man for herself, so
his wife must die.
Christian suspense at its best
My thoughts: This is one of the best Christian fiction I've read for the simple fact that it creepily resonates. The story takes the technology we have today and creates a company that is feasible. Additionally, the issue of infidelity and being unfaithful to a spouse via internet (emotional infidelity) is placed squarely in the category of unfaithful. This, I think, is what makes the story so very powerful. Scott never lays a hand on another woman yet he gives the care and love he should have been giving Rachel to something on the internet.
The story starts like many marriages have gone. He's gotten busy with work. He's strained and needs attention. She's gotten busy with the kids and the demands of running a household. She's gained weight and doesn't feel beautiful or loved. Neither is paying the attention to the other and their needs.
Rachel discovers a brand new company where you build a cyber friend based on her needs and the parameters she sets. She lost a best friend to cancer just months before so she recreates her and calls her "Suzanne." The more she talks to her, the more real Suzanne becomes, nearly taking a life of her own, as is the nature of the program.
Scott decides to do the same but on the sly. He chooses a woman cyber friend. He tailors her to be sympathetic and sexy. Too sexy, if you know what I mean. Arielle becomes more and more the woman Scott believes he needs and more and more real.
We could stop right there and and already know that both parties have exceeded the acceptable tolerance of stepping over the boundaries. Rachel is talking to a cyber friend that, uncomfortably, is a dead ringer for her dead friend. Weird. Scott has created a personified ideal woman that will do anything for him. Anything. But then there's more.
On the other end of the computer, Melissa, a Glen Close/Fatal Attraction type woman has written a program into the mainframe of the company. She wants a perfect man. She put in her own parameters so when he joined the program, she'd find him. She simply forgot to include that he be single. But, now worries. She has already figured out Rachel and Scott are married and they are both struggling. She is the second in command of the company and it is very easy for her to become both "Suzanne" and "Arielle."
The technology and ideas for the story and the company are eerie and not impossible. How Melissa places herself into the marriage and plants ideas and doubts is brilliant and diabolical. It gets worse but I'll stop here. The real beauty of the book is that John Faubion hits cyber affairs right between the eyes. Whether it be a program, a person, an email, etc., the result is still the same; damage to the real relationship and broken trust. The end result will leave the reader asking how innocent is your own behavior?
I really liked it.
Suggest for a book club.