What’s it all about?:
When Leila discovers the Web site 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 Web site’s founder, a brilliant and elusive man named Adrian. Leila is thrilled when Adrian asks to meet her, 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 e-mail, 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. An ingeniously plotted novel of stolen identity, Kiss Me First is brilliantly frightening about the lies we tell—to ourselves, to others, for good, and for ill.
What did I think?:
I first came across this fantastic debut novel through a podcast I listen to every week – Books on the Nightstand where it was one of the recommended reads. One of the presenters and I seem to have similar tastes in books so I was quietly confident that I was going to enjoy this. Lottie Moggach is the daughter of author Deborah Moggach whose books The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Heartbreak Hotel I have reviewed recently. This first novel from the younger Moggach packs a proverbial punch with a killer plot-line and an incredibly contemporary feel looking at the Internet, suicide and a stolen identity. Our main character Leila is a bit of a sad and lonely figure, she has just lost her mother to Multiple Sclerosis after nursing her through her illness since it began, and spends her days quite isolated carrying out a temporary computer job that she does not have to leave the house for and trawling the Internet. One of her searches leads to a Philosophy chat forum the subject in which she has always been interested, run by the dynamic and enigmatic Adrian. After a while, he singles her out for a “job opportunity” based upon her philosophy ideals, supporting “the right to die.”
A young woman called Tess is desperately unhappy with her life, and has chosen to commit suicide. However, she wants to spare her family and friends the pain and suffering, so the idea is for her to emigrate to distant lands, and have Leila answer emails, post photos, play pre-recorded messages etc, gradually lessening the contact between “Tess” and her loved ones. However, this proves more problematic and dangerous than she anticipated, and Leila finds herself in quite a different situation than she could have ever dreamed of.
This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend, Lottie Moggach has created an innovative and gripping story that I was unable to put down. I love what she has done with the characters, I found myself really caring about what happened to them, and the twists and turns in the plot are beautiful, you just never know what could happen next. Leila is naive and a social misfit, but also has strong principles and morals, and the unfolding of her character through the book is fascinating. Some other reviewers didn’t really get on with her, but I thought she was completely intriguing and quite pitiful, with an all too human need to be loved. All I want to know now is…. when does Lottie Moggach’s next book come out?!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):