Friday 26 July 2013


Book review: Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

My edition: Hardcover, published on 4 July 2013 by Picador, 337 pages.

Description: 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.


Leila doesn't fit in with her peers. She couldn't connect to them when they were all still in school and while they've dutifully added each other as Facebook friends she now rarely sees them and doesn't understand their obsessions with posting 'selfies' to social media outlets. Leila prefers to be by herself at home where she can both do her work, she gained employment testing websites through a family friend, and play World of Warcraft throughout the night.

One day while she's surfing the web she comes across a forum called Red Pill and the rational and intellectual debates on there about a variety of topics strike her interest. Her excellent argumentation and debating skills soon get noticed by site owner Adrian and he invites her to join an elite part of the forum. Already feeling flattered it then doesn't take much persuasion for Adrian to convince Leila to assist him with 'Project Tess'.

Tess is a beautiful, artsy and occasional spiritual woman but she is also flaky, often confused and has depressive and manic phases. Increasingly unhappy she eventually decides that she wants to end her life. However, she doesn't want to hurt her family and friends by having them grief over the loss so instead of abruptly ending it all she allows Leila to take over her online life, pretend Tess is still alive and slowly reduce contact with everyone. Through many weeks of research and communications via email and Skype, Leila uncovers every last detail about the subject of her project and prepares for the inevitable; becoming Tess.

The premise of Kiss Me First is fantastic. Not only does it provide a fascinating moral dilemma on assisted suicide and where the line is and should be drawn but it also perfectly showcases today's Internet consumed society. The novel cleverly exposes some of the risks involved, so to speak, when being mostly reliant on communicating with other people via means of technology instead of meeting with them face to face.

Throughout the novel I started to suspect nearly all characters of not being who they said they are and while most of the time I was wrong, things surely weren't quite as they seemed from the other end of the computer screen either. It's very easy to bend the truth when you're talking via social media or email to someone half-way across the world as you assume they have no way to check the facts. But we oftentimes forget that the other person is doing the exact same thing and despite talking to each other daily and sharing what you think are you most private thoughts and feelings, you might not know the person on the other end at all.

I was enthralled by Kiss Me First from start to finish, but with it being a fairly quick read (I finished the novel in a few short hours) I do wish it had been longer and more detailed. This feeling was increased by the fact that I am generally not a fan of open endings and this story in particular finished at a crucial stage without elaborating on what happened to some of the most important characters.

Despite this I still thoroughly enjoyed the novel. The thrilling premise and engaging storytelling make this an excellent debut from a fresh new voice in literature.

Order your copy from:,, Waterstones or your own preferred retailer.

Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review!

Would you like to know more about author Lottie Moggach? You can find her online at:

Book website:


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  1. I added this to my wishlist the other day because in the blurb Leila sounded a bit like me! I do like reading books that deal with social seems bizarre to keep it out of contemporary fiction these days.

    1. I think this is one of the first books I've read where social media takes centre stage and it provides a really interesting insight into the downfalls, so to speak. I hope you enjoy the novel when you pick it up!


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