Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Book review: Debut thriller Friend Me by John Faubion

Howard Books, February 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1476738727
Print: $14
Ebook - $10

About the Book:
From the publisher - 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 brilliant— 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 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.

My review

John Faubion’s debut novel speaks to the heart of relationships, of the depths of marriage and the reality of what betrayal and unfaithfulness looks like to people of faith.

Not something we might expect from a former missionary unless we knew that missionary turned software developer.

You just knew a book like Friend Me had to come sooner or later in today’s social media world. Virtual reality, while around for a while, melds dangerously with physical reality in this story. When loneliness and disappointment lead Rachel Douglas to experiment with a new website to re-create a lost friendship with a virtual online avatar, neither she nor her husband realize they are being played. Rachel’s husband, Scott, is curious about his wife’s activities, and checks out the site. Stress at work may be part of the blame, but giving in to temptation and a lack of respect and trust in the people around him—a heart of sin—is what leads him to create a virtual playmate. What is unfaithfulness? Faubion explores the issue in this book that’s sure to generate a lot of good discussion.

Told from three viewpoints, the two protagonists, Scott and Rachel, and the antagonist who’s the programmer, the reader is never in the dark about the depths to which each of them has fallen. Their deepest desires, their faults and their faith are all exposed as they strive for what they want.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most married couples reach a point from time to time of feeling stale or even betrayed; of not wanting to share burdens, of keeping secrets and lying to each other. This story shows what that’s like, and the hard work and discipline it takes to decide to practice marriage even when we may not always feel like it. Honestly Scott and Rachel were not always likeable and seemed to be graced by all good things, but that’s the way of grace. They learned, they grew, they forgave and were forgiven.

An intriguing side note to the novel is Faubion’s inspiration - which I hope will be put back on his website at publication. The concept for virtual friend creation came to him as business idea. You’ll want to read why he decided not to follow through. Readers of contemporary inspirational suspense will be fascinated with Friend Me, especially those who are curious about behind-the-scenes software development (not in-depth), and the possibilities of a frightening new computer reality that can so easily manipulate users with false perceptions and advertising.

Buy the book:
Christian Book 
Barnes and Noble

About the author:
John Fabion, author of Christian Suspense.

John Faubion

I am a former thirty-year foreign missionary, now working as Senior Software Engineer for a large electronics and appliance retailer.

In 1966, as a new Christian and an American soldier in Vietnam, I was deeply moved at my first exposure to idolatry. In 1974, after completing Bible college and missionary deputation, our family of four moved to South Vietnam to begin formal missionary work, where we remained until the war was lost and Americans had to leave.

In 1976, with another missionary, we started Harvest Baptist Church and Christian School on Guam.
We returned to the field in 1977 going to Taiwan, where we began our Chinese ministry. The Lord allowed us to start the Ping Lin Baptist Church in Taichung at that time.

From 1981 until 1988 I did the software development for Baptist International Missions in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We then returned to the mission field of mainland China. In 1989 my first wife went to be with the Lord, and the Lord gave me my wife Beth in 1990. 

We remained in Beijing and Hong Kong until 1999.

I'm still a Mandarin Chinese speaker. I have five children, the youngest sixteen years old.

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