Maybe it’s because they’re such a quick and easy read, maybe it’s because they are pretty cheap as an e-book. But lately, I’ve read a lot more thrillers than I usually do; especially since they’re not my go-to genre at all. I’ve explained why in my He Said/She Said book review. And now, I’ve picked up yet another thriller: Friend Request by Laura Marshall. Don’t worry, meanwhile, I’m also reading the Grisha trilogy so I’m not completely off my game. Anyway, was this a friend request to accept or ignore?
What’s it about?
Fair question, with such a relatively vague title. As always, we have our friends at Goodreads for this:
1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.
2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.
Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job, her son, her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria–or whoever’s pretending to be her–is known to all.
It’s very relatable
No, I didn’t receive a Facebook friend request from somebody who is most likely dead. But Friend Request is relatable since everybody has dealt with bullies one way or the other while in school. Everybody has had a ‘Sophie’ or a ‘Maria’ in their lives. A bully; a new girl; somebody who’s left out because they’re weird/strange/not popular enough; that one weird kid; the popular clique… sounds familiar, right? That’s what makes the 1989 timeline almost painful to read. It’s very well written by Laura Marshall and I reckon she’s had her fair share of dealing with these people as well. And who hasn’t?
Luckily, the 2016 timeline makes clear that (high) school doesn’t form us as adults. The popular girl can turn out to be a sad woman, and that weird kid is now doing extremely well. People change. But, not Maria. Not the presumably dead girl who disappeared in 1989. The main character, Louise (everything is told from her POV) get’s this strange friend request that brings back all kinds of unwanted memories. She always thought Maria was dead, but since nobody ever saw her again, who knows for sure?
It’s crystal clear from the start that something happened in 1989. Reading from Louise’s voice in both the past and the present, makes things clearer and clearer. Shadows from the past start appearing, and a high school reunion is coming up… But does Louise know what happened back then? And who is behind this friend request? Pieces of the puzzle start falling into place as the story unfolds.
Would you accept this friend request?
The only thing that seemed off to me, is Louise actually accepting the friend request Maria sent her. It makes sense that she’s extremely curious, and I would be as well. But you can send messages to somebody you’re not friends with, and I just don’t get why Louise wouldn’t do just that. She seems like a pretty smart woman throughout the book. This felt a bit forced to me, just to get the plot rolling. Though it did set the tone – we live in a world wherein our ‘social’ lives are not our ‘real’ lives. Here’s what Louise has to say about that:
I know that Facebook offers an idealized version of life, edited and primped to show the world what we want it to see.
But, back to the plot. So, it’s obvious something BAD happened in 1989, and it’s obvious at one point in the book, everything will become clear. And where I mostly can figure out plots, this certain revelation caught me by surprise. I didn’t see it coming. So, big points to Laura Marshall for coming up with something pretty original. You know what? I’ll add an spoiler paragraph at the very end of this review, for those who are curious but don’t know if they’ll read Friend Request. You’re safe for now though.
+ Relatable characters and character growth
+ High paced, you’ll get through this book in no time
+ Very original ‘revelation’ at the end of the book
– Not believable at some points
– Some things were just too much of a coincidence
Since this is a debut novel, I’m very impressed. It feels like Laura Marshall has been writing thrillers for much longer than this. I will surely read her next novel Three Little Lies, which is coming out in just a month! So lucky me I just now got acquainted with this new author. And now, as promised, a spoiler filled paragraph is coming your way. Stop reading this review now if you want to be surprised by the plot (which I highly recommend by the way).
Spoilers for Friend Request coming up
Yeah, Maria Weston was obviously dead. That wasn’t the big shocker for me. With her being gone for 25 years, there was hardly any other conclusion. I never once thought that maybe she was still alive. At some points, I thought either the brother was impersonating her (but that was way too obvious) and once I actually thought Louise was making things up. So it was a slight surprise that Maria’s mother was the impersonator, though that wasn’t a too big of an uncovering. There weren’t any other suspects, really.
No, the real shocker for me was Sam. While he did seem a bit off to me, I just thought he was a cheating bastard. I honestly didn’t see it coming that he was a cold-hearted rapist and murderer. Damn! Big shocker, that one. I didn’t see it coming that it was Sam who actually killed Maria. I’m still not quite sure how I liked the ending, with him -presumably- jumping off the cliff. It sure would have been something if he had killed Louise as well! But I guess Louise deserved a happy end after all these years.