Book review: Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach...
Kiss Me First is (unlike the name suggests) a gripping dark thriller about Leila a sheltered, socially inept young woman who spends most of her time on the internet having no "real" life especially since her mothers death.
She joins an online forum where rationalists and "elite thinkers" log in to discuss various issues. The site is run by the charismatic Adrian who approaches Leila and asks her if she will take over the online persona of Tess a woman who wants to commit suicide but not cause pain to any of her family and friends. Leila (strangely) agrees and she and Tess concoct a plan whereby Leila posts emails and Facebook updates pretending that Tess has emigrated. The concept of the story is certainly an interesting one, and raises questions about social media, and how we portray ourselves online and our so called online friends.
Leila is an unlikeable protagonist (this seems to be a pattern in the books I'm reading lately) although vulnerable she has zero empathy for anyone around her and often talks as though she feels superior at the same time being very naive to social norms. I can't warm to someone who has no empathy and did find myself getting annoyed by her, but the story was compelling enough for it not to put me off.
One thing that sparked my interest was that Tess had bipolar disorder, I'm often apprehensive of characters with the illness, and am extra critical of their portrayal- I often fear that it will go down the path of sensationalising the illness (or indeed any mental illness) to aid story, or create the cliched "crazy" persona. I did feel that this part of the book was handled well, and of all the characters I found Tess the most likeable and in some ways relateable.
"I think I'm too sensitive for this world. Do you know what I mean?"
I think this is what I enjoyed most from the book- although a lot of the characters weren't that nice, they rang true and seemed very human. It annoyed me a little that Leila was described as "fat" and unattractive and for that reason was often the subject of ridicule even when there was no call for it- I think this was fuelled by the fact that it was exactly the same with the main character in the last book I read (The Girl on the Train.)
I really didn't know where the story would lead and there was no big finale to it, in fact the ending was a let down. After a fairly intense read the ending didn't really go anywhere it just happened, and for me left too many things hanging.
Ending aside I thought this was a well written and gripping read full of interesting and flawed characters. If you like dark thrillers that give you a little food for thought then I'd recommend picking this up.
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