9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Gripping and very unsettling,
This review is from: Kiss Me First (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to admit I was a little bit sceptical when I heard that Lottie Moggach (daughter of author Deborah) had released her first novel. However, the many positive reviews persuaded me to give it a go and within a couple of pages my scepticism was blown away and I was convinced that Lottie is a major talent in her own right.
Kiss Me First features Leila, a highly intelligent but socially inept young woman who has just emerged from a lonely adolescence spent caring for her disabled mother. To minimise her contact with the real world "to a point where I could effectively ignore its presence", she retreated into fantasy online world, firstly playing interactive games and, following her mother's death, becoming involved in a philosophy forum where like-minded libertarians debate ethical issues and moral dilemmas. It's through this site that she comes to the attention of its founder, the charming but sinister Adrian Dervish. Leila's sympathy with the view that people should have control over their own lives (including the manner of their death), and her background of fantasy role-play make her perfect candidate for his new project - a `service' to assist would-be suicides to disappear without causing too much distress to their friends and family.
Moggach has created a very credible protagonist in Leila. She's dismissed by one character as "A sad little creature. No family. No Friends"; traits she uses to her advantage in her new assignment which is to inhabit the online persona of Tess, a bipolar woman who has decided that she finally wants to `check out'. Leila needs to convince Tess's friends and family that she is alive and well and living a happy new life on the other side of the world. In order to do this she has to learn about every aspect of Tess's life - past jobs, boyfriends, A level results etc - and what follows is a fascinating exploration of just how much of our lives is lived online and in the public arena and how `virtual' relationships can become more important than real-life ones.
It's a dark and disturbing tale, particularly for anyone who uses the internet (ie the vast majority of the population), and also a very contemporary one which, in the current climate of cyberstalking and identity theft, makes for some very unsettling reading at times. It will be interesting to see how well it has `aged' in five years or so, but in the meantime I think this gripping and very accomplished novel will provide plenty of issues for book groups to discuss (particularly online ones!)