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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense Reading
Although a fairly short novel at just under 300 pages (in the proof copy), it took me longer than usual to read. There is an intensity about the story, the characters and the writing that at times felt almost suffocating. The reader is thrust into the isolated, fairly strange world of Leila. Leila is our narrator and although she does realise that there is more than one...
Published 13 months ago by Lincs Reader

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise that lost me by the end
'It was a Friday night, about nine weeks into the project.'

Lottie Moggach's debut novel starts with the 'final conversation' her narrator Leila has with Tess. The novel then timeshifts forward to August 2011 where Leila is in Spanish commune searching for Tess. In the earlier narrative thread we learn Leila lost her mother to MS and through an internet forum...
Published 10 months ago by purpleheart


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise that lost me by the end, 17 Oct 2013
By 
purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Kiss Me First (Hardcover)
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'It was a Friday night, about nine weeks into the project.'

Lottie Moggach's debut novel starts with the 'final conversation' her narrator Leila has with Tess. The novel then timeshifts forward to August 2011 where Leila is in Spanish commune searching for Tess. In the earlier narrative thread we learn Leila lost her mother to MS and through an internet forum takes on the absurdist task of continuing the online life of someone who wants to commit suicide. That person is Tess. We know from the 2011 narrative that police are involved and that Leila is searching for Tess who she thought had committed suicide. The success of the novel then depends on Moggach being able to keep juggling those emerging and seemingly conflicting stories and in keeping us interested in the outcome.

The novel was clearly seen as hitting the zeitgeist by the publishing community and was the focus of a bidding war. The prize of finding the next pyschological thriller to catch the public imagination must be large, but to my mind this isn't it. The sense of danger of a thriller needs isn't really there and the psychological aspects are not fully convincing. Much of the pull of the novel is expected to come from the reader being able to interpret differently what our unreliable narrator is telling in the manner of Notes on a Scandal but I found this patchy. We presume Leila is on the autistic spectrum from her awkward lists of questions for Tess and from her inability to read social situations, yet she is able to adopt Tess's flirty online tone with ease and her flatmate Jonty, himself a cipher helps her social integration later. I was intrigued by the puzzle and found it compelling at times but felt tighter editing might have helped keep my interest through some very slow patches. I was unconvinced by the end.

The novel is keen to explore themes of identity. The persona that can be displayed to the work through social networking or the virtual life that can be lived on the internet, playing World of Witchcraft or in philosophy forums and in Facebook likes is examined with wit and precision. Moggach is very good at these small moments of sharp observation.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense Reading, 6 July 2013
By 
Lincs Reader (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Kiss Me First (Hardcover)
Although a fairly short novel at just under 300 pages (in the proof copy), it took me longer than usual to read. There is an intensity about the story, the characters and the writing that at times felt almost suffocating. The reader is thrust into the isolated, fairly strange world of Leila. Leila is our narrator and although she does realise that there is more than one side to every story, we readers only hear her side to this particular tale.

Growing up the only child of a single mother, Leila has led a sheltered existence. The slow decline in her mother's health and her eventual death have left her with a sense of worthlessness and she immerses herself in an alternative world via the internet, playing games and interacting with people in various chat rooms. One web site in particular; Red Pill and it's charismatic founder Adrian attracts her more than most and it is through Adrian that she hears about Tess. Tess wants to commit suicide, but doesn't want to cause hurt to her family and friends. Tess plans to tell everyone that she is moving away, to 'start over' when really she plans to kill herself. Leila will take on Tess's identity online.

Leila is relating her side of the story a year later when she has travelled abroad to the place that Tess 'moved away to'. Slowly and surely she relates just how she became Tess, her feelings for the other woman, her lifestyle and her friends.

This is an incredibly unique, unusual and sometimes terrifying story. Terrifying in the way that it really makes the reader consider just what they do and say online. These days, most of us use at least one form of social media. Every day I see friends and family who post the most intimate details of their daily lives. Give me a bit of time and I'm sure that I could 'become' one of my Facebook friends. In fact, how do I know that that online presence is in fact that person who I last saw 15 years ago?

Lottie Moggach has dealt with some harrowing and serious issues within this novel, yet there is also an innocence about Leila that makes her both hostile and endearing at the same time.

A perfectly plotted story that deals with a very topical subject. I will be very interested to see what Lottie Moggach comes up with in her next book.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting idea but flawed execution, 1 Jun 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kiss Me First (Hardcover)
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This book has a very interesting premise and some good, engrossing episodes but as a whole I found it rather unsatisfactory.

The plot revolves around the narrator (Leila) being asked to take on the identity of another person (Tess) and to pretend to be her and to keep up her internet "life" while the real Tess disappears. I won't give away more plot details than that because things develop slowly and further revelation would have acted as a spoiler for much of the book for me. The characters of Leila and Tess are interesting and Leila has a very well realised and convincing narrative voice. She is a solitary, asocial, slightly autistic young woman while Tess is an older, devil-may-care "free spirit". I found both characters convincing; Leila's social ineptiude and naiveté were well done as was Tess's unpredictability, and the depiction of the relationship between them was a strength of the book.

There is lots of interaction between the two of them as Leila tries to get to grips with the minutiae which she will need of Tess's life, and then the story of how things go once Leila has taken over. This was one of my problems with the book; it's an interesting idea but - oh dear! - there's a lot of it. I ended up skimming pages and pages of stuff regarding questions about who Victor was, where Tess worked at certain times and so on and so on, none of which had any real relevance to the plot or central idea. I know that Lottie Moggach is trying to convey the immense intricacy and detail needed, but it's not really a spectator sport. Things picked up a bit after page 150, but there were still considerable longeurs and I thought the book could have done with being at least 100 pages shorter. Moggach has the courage not to tie everything up too neatly at the end, but I still found it all just a little more convenient than convincing.

There is a really good book to be written about identity in the internet age but, although it's a creditable attempt in many ways, this isn't it. I was hoping for some elements of the Curious Case Of The Dog In The Night-Time and The Talented Mr Ripley, but got neither, really. I don't like to be too critical of a debut novel, but I can only give this a very qualified recommendation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another overhyped book, 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: Kiss Me First (Paperback)
The more this progressed, the more outlandish the plot became, not to mention the unsatisfactory ending - beyond absurd is putting it mildly! Whoever thought this "idea" was worth publishing should maybe change their job or was it only because of who her mother is!!! However I did like her style of writing and if she did come up with something a little more plausible, it might be worth a try.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable..., 14 July 2013
By 
Welsh Annie (Wetherby) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kiss Me First (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Every so often a book comes along that hooks you from the very first page. This one was an extremely accomplished first novel that I read in one enjoyable sitting, mesmerised by the turns and twists in the story and absolute fascination with the character of Leila. "Unputdownable" is an overused expression - but this book really is!

Leila is the narrator, telling the story after it happened. She is a solitary individual, having worked from home in IT testing while looking after her dying mother. Left alone, she begins to live her life on line, first through Warcraft and then by discovering the Red Pill website where she engages in philosophical debate and becomes a trusted member. When approached by the site's founder - the charismatic Adrian - she agrees to assume the on-line presence of Tess, a manic depressive who wants to commit suicide without hurting her family or friends. We watch with fascination as she learns every detail about Tess' life leading up to the day Tess disappears and the game really starts.

This is a fascinating and absorbing story that made me feel really uncomfortable on a number of occasions - there's a real feeling of "this could really happen" about the whole story, with the way in which we all live our lives on line these days. And it's perfectly written - Leila has an unworldly naivety and innocence which makes her endearing, with her awkward attempts at social interaction and the precision with which she takes on her task.

I must mention the wonderful Facebook trailer produced to accompany the book - you need to be logged on to Facebook to access it, and it uses your personal details to produce a very unsettling experience. Nothing will be posted on your Facebook profile, and your details won't be shared.

I'm dying to see what Lottie Moggach comes up with next!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a ridiculously pointless book, 17 April 2014
This review is from: Kiss Me First (Paperback)
The reviews on the back cover made out that this was going to be gripping, witty, suspenseful, satirical, bold etc.How far from accurate those comments are. I found it a predominantly tedious read, its only marginally redeeming feature being that the author is at least articulate, unlike any selfpublished books these days. Quite how this novel succeeded in getting an agent and publisher is beyond me. The storyline is very weak and - spoiler alert - doesn't even HAVE an ending. Just fizzles out with pointless suppositions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars rubbish, 5 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Kiss Me First (Kindle Edition)
I was expecting an edge of the seat thriller. This was boring. No suspense. Disappointing end without a twist. The story was not believable. I didn't like the heroine. A promising subject but just not intersting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very relevant and engrossing, 15 Feb 2014
This review is from: Kiss Me First (Paperback)
A very interesting idea ... The story tells how socially isolated Leila comes to know the vulnerable Tess and agrees to take over her life online so that Tess can disappear. It's difficult to say too much without spoiling the story line. In an age when the internet is an important part of so many lives, it poses interesting and sometimes disturbing questions about reality when people can be whoever they want to be, hiding important truths to appear to be someone completely different. There are several twists and turns throughout the story, and it kept me gripped as I was drawn into Leila's world.

I enjoyed this book. It was probably a bit longer than it needed to be, but it's a well written, thought provoking and relevant read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story - flat ending, 6 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Kiss Me First (Kindle Edition)
The book kept me going, although I could not really see where the twist or ending was coming from - and it wasn't, so that was a bit of a disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just ok, 16 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Kiss Me First (Hardcover)
When they are done well - suspenseful thrillers can be my favourite sort of read. But this book seemed typical of lots of psychological thrillers I have read recently - they start well and then just peter out. The idea for Kiss Me First is a great one (online/webchat stolen identity) as well as being very current but it didn't really fulfil its promise and felt a bit contrived and just boring which is not a great criticism to level at this sort of novel.
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Kiss Me First
Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach
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