Cover Image: Best Friends

Best Friends

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Member Reviews

This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and action with wonderful world building.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.
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This was... such an odd read. First of all, friendly reminder this book was first published in 1985. I had not known that. Still, this book did not convinve me. 
I mean - a catholic nursery performing satanic rites on children?! Messed up. (And slightly ironic...)
And to deal with that, Barry (who did not exactly stirke me as three-year-old, but I don't have kids and I can't remember whether or not my brother was as eloquent with words when he was three...) creates drawings of a guy without a face and a... cat? Well, a furry animal with a tail. 
There was so much wrong with that book - especially the part between Barry's sister and their cousin?! Holy shit, nope! Don't add attempted sexual assult to a book when you're already throwing around satanic rituals which probably turned out as sexual assults (based on Barry's behaviour, at least).
So - a big no on my end. This book was just... weird. 

I received a free copy by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I should say up front that I'm not a fan of horror stories and so this was a bit of an experiment, but I'm always interested in reading authors I haven't encountered before, especially if they have anything interesting or new to share, and this book offered something that was first published back in 1985 and was a little bit different from the stuff we tend to see today. It was a quick read, and although I had some issues with it, they were not enough overall to turn me off it.

I appreciated that there were only one or two writing and publishing issues. For example, at one point at the end of a descriptive sentence, there's a closing quote which is wrong, because the sentence was neither speech nor a quote:
...when, Shannon suspected, he was disturbed about something."
The ending quote should not be there, but we've all been there, I'm sure! No big deal.

At another point, there was a paragraph describing their first trip to a supermarket, and it began and ended with a contradiction: "They each took baskets" as they entered the store, but then they left it was "With three grocery carts loaded with food supplies..." Disconnect! If they took baskets they should leave with baskets (or bags), otherwise the author ought to have had them take carts at the start! Unfortunately Ruby Jean Jensen died in 2010, so she can no longer fix that. We'll let it live as a memorial to her.

The final one I noticed was a bit of a writing wash: "And the tabletop had beneath it a shadow that seemed, when Shannon glanced away from it, darker than it should have been, as if there were something more beneath it adding its own shadow." It's possible to have a variation in shadow depth, but in this circumstance it stood out to me as being awkward in the circumstances. There was only one light source and the table top shadow could not have been deepened by anything underneath it when there was no other light shining. It's a minor quibble, but one which jumped out at me. Rather like the thing that was hiding! Not that the hiding made any sense, but I let that go. I know what she was trying to say; I just don't think she said it well.

For me, one of the biggest problems with horror stories or hauntings, poltergeists, that kind of thing is that writers always approach them in a terrified way - in that they tend to have the ghosts or evil spirits, or whatever, start out with minor ambigious events where the victims are always talking themselves into believing that nothing really happened, or that there's a rational explanation for what they think they experienced, but to me that makes zero sense. It especially made little sense in this particular novel.

I don't believe in an afterlife, or ghosts or evil spirits, but they make for good stories, and while I can understand how a writer would feel a need to slowly ramp-up the tension and the horror, it's all been done exactly like this so tediously many times before. The thing is that if you dive into that world and pretend for the sake of fiction that it's real, why would demons, ghosts, or spirits actually do that?

Maybe ghosts would behave like the humans they once were and ease into it if they were having fun - like the dead couple in Beetlejuice, for example, because they're supposed to be the spirits of people, but demons? Other monstrous creations? Why would they follow any rules or ramp up anything, when they can go full throttle from the off? Why would they behave remotely like humans?

The premise in this story is that a woman who has lost a young child is offered the opportunity to babysit three young children, the youngest of which is the age of the child she lost. They go to the family retreat in the mountains. The kids lost their mom, and dad can only visit on weekends, so it's just they, the housekeeper, and the evil friends of young Barry, who went through bad experiences in his previous setting where he was abused. Now he's withdrawn. No one knows he was abused by a woman who practiced demon worship.

The whole motivation of young Barry's supernatural 'friends' therefore, is to keep him to themselves and get rid of all competition, which includes Shannon the babysitter, as well as his sister Becky, his brother David, the housekeeper Edna, and even his Aunt and her two kids who come to stay for a while. Why in particular the demons want to rid the house of these other people isn't actually made clear. There's no explicatory backstory at all. The other people in the house are no competition. They're not even aware of the demons to begin with, and the demons are perfectly free to do whatever they want. To me this made no sense.

There was a epilogue which I did not read. I don't do prologues, epilogues, prefaces, introductions, forewords or any of that antique and tedious crap. Chapter one is where I start. I've never regretted it or felt like I missed anything by skipping those - which proves my point! It's possible there was something offered in the epilogue, but rather doubt it.

Barry spends time with the demons playing with, and talking to them. His family just think he's withdrawn and talking to imaginary friends. Barry has some control over the demons, but not much, and they have their own agenda, so when they decide they want the family gone, my question was: why do they not simply suffocate each one in their beds one night? Why the slow burn and the overly-elaborate deaths? Obviously it's because the writer is trying to entertain the reader and slowly jack-up the tension, but to me it made little sense and kept knocking me out of suspension of disbelief as I questioned why they were so lackadaisical in their demonic behavior! It reminded me of the villain in a thriller monologuing until the hero can find a way to defeat him. It's silly and inauthentic.

I let that slide though for the sake of enjoying an older story by someone who writes decently well, and it turned out to be entertaining. It wasn't something that made me want to run out and buy more Ruby Jean Jensen books to read. I may read another of hers down the line somewhere, but I wasn't overly impressed with this. It was however a worthy read overall.

I liked the way the family was put together and the way the author wrote the female characters, especially Becky and Shannon. I enjoyed the evil characters. They were new and different, and believable in many ways.. I liked Barry, although I thought he was a bit limp at times. On the other hand, he was very young, so maybe he was written realistically. I thought the ending was a bit lacking, but it wasn't awful and it lent Barry some weight that seemed to be missing from his character earlier, so all of these things brought the story around for me. Therefore I commend it.
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Horror abounds when an abused and traumatised child's imagination crosses the boundary of internal coping mechanism to intelligent killers seeking a misguided form of vengeance at the bequest of their creator. 

Whilst not hitting all the 80's horror tropes, Best Friend serves up a veritable platter of gore and goodness which is sure to fill the void of mass market paperback horror rekindled for today's audience. 

This was my first Ruby Jean Jensen book and it certainly won't be the last.
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#BestFriends by #RubyJeanJensen has a few elements of both #StephenKing and #DeanKoontz in her writing style which surprised me, because I really enjoyed reading this book, unlike the Stephen King books I've tried to read in the past, though I LOVE Dean Koontz.  Not that there is anything wrong with Stephen King books, they are just not my style, with the way Mr. King continuously describes everything, going into great detail about the most minute object, whereas Dean Koontz describes things, but he also has more action in his books, making them more fast paced.

The same thing can be said for Ms. Jensen to a degree.  She does describes most things in her book quite a bit, but not to the point of losing her readers interest.  Her writing style is simple and to the point, easy enough for a fifth grader to read, or even a well developed third or fourth grader.

Best Friends, while being a thriller/horror, also talks about the very subject of child abuse (sexual assault) and trying to help the child overcome the damage that was done to him by a teacher at Daycare, someone in authority and supposed to care for him.  As a result of the horror the child endured, the child has two imaginary friends drawn by someone at Daycare - probably an adult, but was it the the teacher that abused him? -  who have the ability to come to life to.  These drawings start off as imaginary friends, then begin protecting the boy and making him feel safe, but along the way they start to go rogue and start killing anyone and everyone that looks at or speaks to the boy.  


While this book is written is such in such a simplistic writing format, the descriptiveness draws the story out, very much like Mr. King's work does.  The only difference is, unlike Mr. King, Ms. Jensen has more things happening in her book which makes it seem more fast pace, more along the lines of Mr. Koontz, but not as fast paced as say #BarbandJCHendee and #KeithDouglas.  Now, don't get me wrong, just because Mr. King's books are not to my liking, DOES NOT mean the movies based on his books not to my liking.  In fact, the MOVIES based Mr King's books are COMPLETELY to my liking, and I look forward to each movie that comes out like a like a child eagerly looking forward to Halloween and Christmas both each each year, and Ms Jensen's book would make just as great a movie as one of Mr. King's books does.  The next book I will be reading by Ms. Jensen is called Mama, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.
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‘He felt all alone now, the way he had felt then, before they had come to be his best friends.’

This isn’t your typical story regarding a child’s deadly imagination, and when factoring all mediums, it is a subject that has been exploited and played out countless times.  Jensen, however, takes the idea and kicks up the momentum by conjuring up some horrific ideas and creative characters.

The story revolves around three-year-old Barry, who after having a bad experience at his nursery school, unleashes his imaginary friends to do his evil bidding.  The imaginary friends are amorphous cartoons (although one of them looks like the cat on the cover), and it was refreshing to read about animated manifestations for once, rather than demons and beasts.

Barry’s family eventually enlists the help of a nanny to get him psychologically fit, and everyone eventually ends up in Big Bear Lake for the summer.  The beginning of the story has a more of an urban setting, which faired better with the deadly encounters, but the geographical shift also had its grisly perks. 

Not much else separates “Bad Friends” from other supernatural equivalents, but from the first page you know you want to read more.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ARC for my honest feedback.
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I keep hearing about this author in a horror group on Facebook so was excited to be able to read this book. This book is awesome and I can't wait to read more from her.
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Unfortunately I am not finishing this book as for some strange reason I just cannot seem to get into it. It has been literally years and years since I have read anything by Ruby Jean Jensen. I so wanted to like this book, but it just has been dragging on with nothing happening even as far as being up to 35%. I have been forcing myself to read it as I kept thinking that something was going to take off, but my hopes are dashed as it just isn't sparking anything within me to keep going on with it. That is just me though - other people might like it, but it is too much of a slow burn for me. Normally I do not star books I don't finish but I will give it one star for the cover as it is creepier than story.


My thanks to Netgalley and BooksGoSocial for letting me review this ARC.
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As with all of Ruby Jean Benson's books, this one was scary. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend it to all old school horror lovers.
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i really enjoyed reading this book, I liked that this book could be read for all generations. The writing was really well done and I look forward to more from the author,
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Top of the line in creepiness!  So hard to find a solid creepy read that isn't filled with gore - I don't mind gore - but sometimes just want a good scary read.  This one fits the bill.  No spoilers here, but if you want a good, scary story that you will want to keep reading until you finish - read this.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. This has always been a favorite of mine. I had read years ago. Loved it this time around as well. I love all Jensen's books. Thank you.
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Barry is four years old. At his preschool he had been abused by his teacher. Possibly even had seen satanic rituals being preformed. Now he is afraid of women and won't let them touch him without having a meltdown. 
His psychiatrist has suggested a woman known as Shannon to help with his problems. She had her husband and two year old son die in a horrific car crash. He also suggested some time away. Perhaps a summer retreat as a change of scenery. 
Barry is very quiet. He's not worried because he has his best friends going with him. One is a strong boy and one is a magical animal. 
This is a book that can be classified as horror or even as a psychological thriller.
Either way you are kept enthralled and at the edge of your seat.
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#BestFriends #NetGalley
I'm afraid of the "imaginary friend" concept, so this book is a pleasant surprise to me. I've never known or heard about mrs. Jenesen's works until last week, so I'll look for them. 

The situation is unique, the conflict is very strange and unsettling, and the talent of Barry is amazing, I saw a bunch of three-year old children and ability of drawing Reid and Juno is a talent. And the Third One is a welcome addition.
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