Book Review – Kiss Me First

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Title- Kiss Me First
Author- Lottie Moggach
Published- July 2013
Genre- Mystery
Length- 336 pages
Rating- 4/5

Synopsis (Goodreads)- This 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.

Review- I received this book as my February book from by subscription service, The Willoughby Book Club. Like most of the books I have received from them, I hadn’t heard of it before.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, it had a few little issues, but nothing to stop me recommending it.

Other than the very beginning, the first 150-ish pages of this were fantastic. I couldn’t put it down, and stayed up really late to read it. The middle is a little slow, not a lot happens, it just goes on and on about one topic. A bit of that was fine but it did drag and made Leila, the main character, come across as a bit pathetic, but maybe that was the point. The ending picks up, but is not as good as the start.

The writing itself is fine, nothing desperately unusual to make it stand out as being particularly good or bad. Saying that though, I would rarely state that any writing is particularly spectacular, I focus on the story more. One issue though, the word “bought” was used instead of “brought” at one point. It’s an easy typo to make but it should have been picked up by someone before publication.

The idea is very good, a little twisted, but not enough to make me think the author is a psycho, like I do with whoever wrote the Saw movies. I have never read, or heard of a similar story so it was nice to have something different here. It could easily really happen too, which I am finding is something I like in books.

The story is told from the point of view of Leila, a twenty-something loner and is mostly told in the past tense. Her being where she is while telling the story, doesn’t really add much and actually, right at the beginning is a little confusing given the huge focus on the past. I had to keep reminding myself that something is meant to be going on in the present. I did get used to it though and it lengthens things a little bit, but really what is going on could have been included in the past tense later, rather than being told in the present tense. The present tense narration also tells you, right from the start, that there were no consequences for Leila’s actions. Not knowing this would have given an element of suspense to the story, and would have been preferable.

The chapters in this are very long which was annoying at times. Where they break, it is supposed to be a new day in the present. There is no real reason why the present couldn’t have just covered more days though, especially when not a lot of present time action is really happening.

There were a few times where Leila/the author talks down to the reader, explaining things that should be common knowledge for the target audience of the book. It bothered me. It could be argued that because Leila didn’t have the knowledge to hand herself, and had to find it, felt the need to explain it, but it just didn’t come across that way. Avoiding this would have meant just leaving a couple of words off the end of a few sentences so wouldn’t have been difficult.

At the start of the book Leila is portrayed as being logical and intelligent. Her character doesn’t stay true to this throughout however. It could be emotional immaturity I suppose, which would fit with her background, but there were a couple of times where she just didn’t seem that bright. It’s not so damaging to the integrity of the story that I can think of a specific example right now though.

What I suppose could be considered the main “twist” was pretty obvious very early on.  There was an extra minor twist right at the end, the general notion of which I had considered beforehand, but not the specifics. I thought it was a nice little addition.

So, overall I thought this was a good book but like most, it is not a perfect one. I sometimes feel like when I review a book I focus a lot on the negatives, they are easier to describe I guess. Has anyone else read this?

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