Bel Reviews: Lottie Moggach's - "Kiss Me First"

moggach_kiss-me-firstThis is the story of a solitary young woman drawn into an online world run by a charismatic web guru who entices her into impersonating a glamorous but desperate woman.

When Leila discovers the website Red Pill, she feels she has finally found people who understand her. A sheltered young woman raised by her mother, Leila has often struggled to connect with the girls at school; but on Red Pill, a chat forum for ethical debate, Leila comes into her own, impressing the website’s founder, a brilliant and elusive man named Adrian. Leila is thrilled when Adrian asks to meet her, and is flattered when he invites her to be part of “Project Tess.”

Tess is a woman Leila might never have met in real life. She is beautiful, urbane, witty, and damaged. As they email, chat, and Skype, Leila becomes enveloped in the world of Tess, learning every single thing she can about this other woman–because soon, Leila will have to become her.

I found parts of this novel to be quite confronting, and other parts had a quite sombre tempo.

It may have been my head space, but I had issue sympathising with the choices of the main character, Leila. She’s an awkward sort, and that’s how she is supposed to be, at times painfully so. I know this is intentional, so in that sense she was written really convincingly.

Having swerved close to the gravitational pull of an online ‘leader’ with charisma coming out of their ears, I know how easily it can be to be groomed and flattered into questioning your choices just to gain the pat on the head. Hence the confrontational feeling I experienced.

We flip between current or quite recent happenings in Leila’s life and looking back at the journey through Red Pill and the two story lines connect up in a round about way. At the heart of the story is the morality battle of suicide, which should never be something that makes you comfortable.

The thing that drew me in to enter the online competition to win a review copy of Kiss Me First was the book trailer… which connects to your Facebook through an app and will give you goose-bumps. You peek inside the world of Leila, as if you were she. Quite unnerving, but extremely effective.

Take a step outside your comfort zone and give Kiss Me First  a burl. I’d love to know what you think of it.

Imprint: Picador

ISBN: 9781447233190
Number of pages: 256

1 July 2013

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