Friend request is about a girl called Louise who…okay bear with me here..recieves a friend request on Facebook.The angle being that the request is from her old school friend who has been dead for 25 years.
Brilliant concept right? The premise of this book draws you in immedietly. Of course it would be terrifying to receive a friend request from anyone beyond the grave. So full marks for grabbing a thread of my attention – which for a tired mum of three is pretty sparse and fragmented right now.
But then that’s it folks, you may as well put down your popcorn and collect your coats. Nothing to see here.
It’s a sad day in the world of a writer when I have to say anything negative about a fellow novelist. Laura Marshall has written a book. Her debut novel. She was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize and runner up in the Bath novel award. The girl done good. For anyone to get published in this day and age is no mean feat. It’s commendable and that should be aknowledged.
But Laura Marshall has written a terrible book.
I am quite busy and I have a few more (hundred) books to read and review so I’ll save you my fellow reader your time effort and money buying and reading this book.
The writing is clunky and is paint by numbers rather than the slick women’s fiction /psychological thriller I was expecting and more importantly, hoping for.
It is becoming increasingly annoying to find myself yet again teetering on the cusp of the world of two dimensional women with the personalities of a wet rag. Louise is a classically annoying, whimsical insipid female protagonist with zero persona or like ability
The book begins with said friend request scene which is what apparently we readers with zero attention hanker after. We must be thrust into the action in scene one. Fine if the book then keeps up the pace or better still esculates to a titilating mid section before plumeting into the breathtaking finale.
But this book didn’t. Once we find out that Louise has received a friend request from a dead school chum it all becomes very tedious and predictable.
The story takes us back in time to help us ascertain why said friend is dead and perhaps trying to communicate from beyond the grave.
I’m not sure the author was ever a 16 year old girl as her take on the type of conversations of 16 year olds was clearly not modelled on any teenager on the brink of adulthood. Okay so I wasn’t expecting Dawson’s Creek dialogue here with obnoxious kids talking in ridiculously long sentences using far too many big words but I didn’t expect conversations like “I don’t want to go into it, I had a bad time of it, like I told you at lunch that day, it was so bad we moved home and schools, it was awful for me of course…” then the author does the cringe worthy and tells, not shows “it was clear that Maria wasn’t going to say any more about it so I changed the subject ” – thanks for clearing that up, a subtle body language description might have sufficed but clearly my too mangaled to imagine it brain needed it spelling out.
We are literally lead through this book by our little pinky finger, word by word, only to realise we’ve been dragged around the long route, with bugger all scenery and now we’re in a stuck down the dreaded dark alley thinking “why did you go down there alone”
The way the dialogue is written is frustrating as hell. The character, Louise, speaks then continues the dialogue in her head so I was constantly dragged back to beginning of sentences to see where she had actually stopped talking and reverted to thinking.
The author has not considered allowing our minds to conjure up any image through her descriptions – “I follow her into a small but tasteful and expensively fitted out kitchen” – I’m not a kitchen expert but last time I was in Wilko I saw some pretty tasty looking culinary accessories.
Where are the clues, the red herrings? Er, there are non. The author constantly makes references to her protagonist feeling watched so much so that “my spine tingled'” or “…felt a cold chill of fear trickle down my spine” or “…I get the feeling that someone is watching me, there’s nothing specific that I can put my finger on just an awareness ”
Er? Cop out. Maybe imagine an eery unnatural feeling spured on by your instinct for survival and tell us the hell how it feels woman!
Blah! Half the book is the author letting us know she was scared by saying ‘I kept feeling like I was being watched’. Then the other half she spends telling us that she did something wrong “no one knows what I really did”
Fancy another? Here’s one for the finale “an icy finger curls around my stomach”
What kind of finger ‘curls’ around your stomach?
Don’t buy or read this book
I’ll be here all week.