7/24/11 — Sunday RieView — The Friend Request — Alex Ford — 3 Stars

The Friend Request is an interesting cautionary tale about social networking. It is currently offered for free on the Kindle page, and I am a sucker for the free books, so I downloaded it.

David Andrews is a typical nice guy, struggling with nicotine cravings and whether or not he will get the promotion he is up for at work. As our story opens, he has received a Facebook “friend request” from someone he doesn’t recognize…but it is making him nervous all the same.

As the story unfolds, we find out why the name makes him uneasy…and just how dangerous Facebook can be in the wrong hands.

The story is not bad. I enjoyed it for the most part, though there are some incidents about two-thirds of the way through that begin stretching credulity to the point where I was beginning to be pulled out of the story — hence the 3 stars. Okay, not great. I’d still recommend it for the characters, most of whom are very nicely presented. I particularly loved Julie, who seemed to be the lynch pin holding a lot of the story together. Mr. Ford is good at creating dimensional people with a minimum of description. Even Mr. Ashwar’s wife, who only appears in one scene and has no dialogue, feels like a rounded character.

I did not see a reason for one of the villain’s chief characteristics to be caustic flatulence. By the end of the book, I was ready to scream if we heard one more description of Tony’s gas attacks. Oddly, this appears to be a trend, as the book I am reading now also makes a big deal of farts. I thought that subject was only featured in bad stand-up and teen movies…

Still, if you can overlook the flaws in this story, the rest of it is quite nice. The character relationships are worth the time it takes to read it, and I do recommend giving it a try. You can’t beat the current price.