Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

My most recent read got me thinking. Kiss Me First is author Lottie Moggach’s debut novel, and it takes you on a journey into the realm of cyberspace…and makes you think about who is behind the screen when you are communicating online.

Kiss Me First cover

What disturbed me most about the story was the everyday believability of the situation. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Catfish you’ll know what I’m talking about: it seems commonplace for people to pose as someone they are not when they are online. Although Kiss Me First isn’t the same type of plot as an episode of Catfish, it definitely puts you in the same, somewhat creeped out, state of mind. The main character, Leila, is an active participant on a web forum called Red Pill. When the creator of the site contacts her and contracts Leila to carry out a strange task, she agrees. Leila is hired to take over the online persona of a real woman, Tess, who wants to take her own life without her friends and family’s knowledge. As time goes on, Leila becomes more fixated and obsessed with the fake life she has created for Tess.

It’s somewhat difficult for me to put myself into the shoes of Leila. On one hand, you can see from the news that it is fairly easy to impersonate another individual online (as scary as that is!). But why would you do it? Leila’s character is sheltered and claustrophobic; she does not spend much time outside of her apartment and would rather make friends playing online games than outside in real life. She thinks herself to be a rational person, but as the story unfolds, you begin to see how much she is truly pulling the wool over her own eyes. I found it almost uncomfortable at times to think about experiencing what her character goes through: she is socially awkward to a painful extent. Leila throws herself into her online work with Tess and does not seem to create any boundaries for herself. She even begins to fall in love with one of Tess’ old flames and believes that if they meet in person he will reciprocate her feelings.

The twisty plot of this book kept me interested and turning the pages. It’s a fun read, but also makes you consider the current state of our online world. Is everyone who they say they are? Would your friends and family realize someone else was posting on your accounts instead of you? Hm….

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