Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Plot: 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?
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I received Friend Request from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I wanted to read Friend Request as soon as I saw the synopsis. The premise intrigued me – very appropriate for a modern audience.
It wasn’t the mysterious death of a girl in Louise’s past that gripped me. It was the anonymity that social media can provide, and the dangers that can translate into. It’s a potential problem that could happen to anyone: do you know who you are talking to?
Deep and meaningful issues aside, I also had my doubts. I’ve read a lot of thrillers lately and the majority of time, find myself guessing who is the true culprit.
Hats off to Laura Marshall: I had no clue the entire way through. It’s been a long time since a book has kept me in the dark. It improved my reading experience and kept me gripped throughout, something no thriller has done for a while.
I’m a completely different person now to the girl who came here every day for five years, and yet I wonder whether that can be true. There must be some core part of me that is the same.
The novel follows Louise, a woman with a troubled past. When that past catches up to her, however, Louise knows she has to come clean. But she has a lot to lose – her son, for one – and it’s not as easy as it should be.
Louise is a likeable and realistic character. I could empathise with her fear of being followed and watched and her terror surrounding her young son, Henry. I did feel, however, that she was overprotective of Henry to the extreme, which made her appear clingy and insecure.
But when her past relationship is revealed in its entirety, it isn’t surprising. Without spoilers, Louise has reason to be paranoid, with a history of abuse in various forms.
The secondary characters were enough to flesh out Louise but the reader never gets to connect with them. Sophie is haunted by the past while Esther has moved on. Louise doesn’t know these women – and so the reader never gets to know them properly either.
Looking back, it is clear that more than one character has been inserted just to keep the reader guessing. Pete, a man whom Louise knows nothing about, is one such character and once his part has been played, disappears almost entirely from the book.
The narration is split between the present day and the past as the story about what happened to Maria is revealed. I’m keeping this review spoiler free, but it is a much darker scenario than I saw coming. There are also snippets that occur in the years between. I wasn’t initially certain to whom these snippets belonged, however, which added even greater mystery to the story: they could be Louise’s thoughts but they could have easily been Maria’s, which added a whole new twist.
I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the thriller genre at the moment. There is no big twist at the end, no final sentence to throw everything off after you have guessed the rest of the plot. Instead, it is a mystery that grips you from beginning to end. A really good read.
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