Thursday, 27 July 2017

#FriendRequest #LauraMarshall #Review


*My thanks to the publisher from whom I received this book in return for an unbiased and honest review*

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers' party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria's disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she?

This book's blurb will appeal to anyone who has a Facebook account and to anyone who has left the ghosts of secondary school far behind them. There can be nothing more unsettling than the thought of getting a friend request from someone you hoped you'd never see again - but the thought of getting a Friend Request from someone you thought was dead has got to be one of the most exciting and frightening premises for a novel! 

This book is chilling and deeply unsettling. Louise William's life is plunged into turmoil when the friend request from Maria appears. It forces her to confront the past, get in touch with people from school that she hasn't spoken to for years, fill her full of anxiety and paranoia and then it sets of a chain of events that lead to even more frightening and dangerous situations for the group of friends who thought what they had done to Maria was long forgotten about and buried deeply in the past. 

Any book that centres around school friendships has a huge appeal and Marshall writes convincingly about peer groups, pressure, cliques, nastiness, jealously and relationships in those tempestuous and turbulent teenage years. Her characters are believable, realistic and struggling with their flaws, regrets, finally facing the consequences of their actions. 

I liked that Louise was still haunted by Maria and the description that "she had been hovering at the edge of my consciousness for all my adult life....a blurred shadow in the corner of my eye..." really captures that sense of lurking memories that never really fade. The reader immediately wants to know what happened and what went on between the two girls that means Louise can't move on or get over it. 

The story line moves between 1989 where we follow the events leading up to the night Maria disappeared, and the present day where things seem to be echoing and mirroring events from the past as the characters continue to try to ignore or contain the secret that they all share. Both timelines are equally intriguing and both settings are evoked clearly with the emotional reactions of the characters well presented. The relationships between the children and then the adults is well written and feels very plausible and realistic.

There is a high level of suspense sustained throughout the entire novel. The reader is desperate to find out exactly what did happen to Maria, exactly what Louise is guilty of, what is it that she can't share with her husband who was also there on the night that Maria disappeared and should be the one person she feels she can confide in. Marshall keeps us turning the pages, guessing, grabbing on to clues and revelations, not knowing who to trust and who to believe and then we are gripped as the book hurtles to it's final dramatic scenes which are full of tension, twists and turns. 

Not only is the premise unnerving and the story very chilling, the really unsettling moments come from the observations about Facebook and just how lethal it can become in the wrong hands - or just how vulnerable and exposed we can make ourselves without realising it. This is a thriller for the modern world and although the story is about the past, it is also very much about the present. 

This is going to be a huge hit so don't miss out. I recommend Friend Request - but not before you've checked your notifications on Facebook- or shut down your account!!! 

Friend Request is published by Sphere on 27th July 2017. 

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

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