2013 Recommended books

Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

Kiss Me First

Five words from the blurb: email, facts, identity, why, life

Kiss Me First is one of the most modern books I’ve ever read. Its insights into social media use and online identity are so relevant to today’s society that it will make readers look at their online activity in a whole new light. The book also deals with suicide and asks difficult questions about a person’s right to take their own life.

Kiss Me First revolves around Leila, a young women who is approached by friend from an Internet forum. He asks whether she’d be willing to take over the online identity of Tess, a women who’d like to commit suicide without bringing sadness to her friends and family.  Leila must learn everything she can about Tess so that she is able to convincingly take over her facebook account and all other online communication. This fraud should persuade Tess’ friends and family that she is still alive and enable them to live happily without her.

The premise of this book was very clever and I loved the way it looked at so many different aspects of modern life. I was particularly struck by the way an online presence can so easily become a substitute for face-to-face meetings and I hope that this story might be a wake up call for those who use their computer at the expense of “real life” interaction.

The pacing was perfect and it gripped me throughout. I loved the way that all the characters were flawed and I had sympathy with everyone involved. It is rare to read a book that carries its moral messages so lightly; allowing the reader to make up their own mind on the very difficult issues discussed.

And I must admit that as April 14th approached, I started to feel agitated in a way that isn’t normally in my nature. The realization struck that to know fully the ins and outs of Tess’s life would be a never-ending task, like trying to fill in a hole and realizing that it has no bottom.
Sometimes, during those last days, I felt like this didn’t matter. I wouldn’t actually need that much information to imitate Tess: people were mostly only interested in themselves, and didn’t attend much to others, even their close friends.

I also loved the fact that the central character had Asperger’s syndrome and this was never mentioned. Most people will probably not notice this, but it was refreshing to read a book that included a character on the spectrum without it becoming a big marketing tool – especially one that battered readers round the head with symptoms.

The writing wasn’t literary, but this is mainstream fiction at its thought provoking best.

Highly recommended.



I’d also like to praise the trailer for Kiss Me First. It is the best book trailer I’ve ever seen and if you have a facebook account I highly recommend you take a look at it here.


25 replies on “Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach”

Jackie, When I saw the title of this one I immediately said to myself, “Jackie, read this?” LOL The title alone did not seem like something you would choose, but after I read your thoughts, I can see how you might find it appealing.

I do have a cope so I must try it. Thanks

Diane, Yes, I think the title is misleading. It sounds like a romance – not something I’d read. Luckily the book is much darker and more thought provoking than that. I’m lucky that publishers know my taste and are able to recommend books like this as I don’t think I’d have picked it off the shelf on my own. I’m sure you’ll love it so I look forward to reading your review.

I’m halfway through this one already, after only starting it yesterday and agree with your review. That line you quoted about people mostly only being interested in themselves and not even their closest friends was one that stood out, out of so many telling observations on our modern life, both off and online.

I’m sure I would love this one. I’ve read a few books where there are deceitful identities online, and serves as a good reminder to trust no one if you haven’t met them. Great review! I’m off to my library website to see what I can find.

This sounds good. There are quite afew books using social media at the moment, especially mainstream books but I feel there is still a lot to say about it.
I’m more interested in the exploration of sucide though.

Caroline, Yes, I’ve seen an increasing mention of social media too. This one manages to capture the feeling of today’s society better than any of the others I’ve tried so far. I also think the suicide discussion is very well done. I hope you decide to give it a try.

This one sounds really interesting. I was just thinking either today or yesterday about the different ways authors have included technology into their novels. I was reading a book that I thought was a recent publication, and had a “present-day” setting, but the description of the technology quickly had me checking the back of the title page to see that the book was a reprint of a late 1990’s novel. Confusion cleared away, I went on to enjoy the book. So I’m imagining how books like Kiss Me First will startle some reader ten years from now.

Christy, Yes, it is sad how quickly books age. I had a similar experience with Mr Mee recently. It was only published in the mid 90s, but felt so old. Sadly I think ‘Kiss Me First’ will date quickly too 🙁

Judith, Yes, that other cover is terrible! I think that is the US cover and you can see it isn’t drawing the right audience by the number of terrible reviews on 🙁 I really hope that the right readers can look past the cover and this book gets the attention it deserves.

Interesting to see your thoughts on this one… I abandoned it after 50 pages. I think it just felt too “young” for me. Clearly, I’m not the target audience (which I assume is 20-somethings), but I couldn’t help but feel a bit offended when a character was described as “quite old, in her late thirties”. Eeeek.

I do remember very much enjoying one of her mother’s novels — her mother is Deborah Moggach — about a decade ago, called Final Demand.

Kim, That is an interesting perspective! I didn’t find the age a problem, but perhaps that is because I’m surrounded by people who are facebook addicts and so really identified with it. I’m not offended by characters who find people in their 30s old as I know I felt that way when I was younger!

I recently started reading a book by her mother (Heartbreak Hotel) and am really enjoying it so far. I think I’m probably mid-way between the two in age so it will be interesting to see which family memebr I enjoy the most!

Jackie, I had not heard of this book before your review… and picked it up because of the 4.5 rating and the mention on online identity. I agree with Kimbofro in that it felt “too young” for me as I’m not into gaming, Facebook etc… but as I have a nearly 15 year old I persisted. Very good book indeed. Scary….I am constantly fearfull of what my child might be lured into on the net although i innocently think I am on top of things.!!! I have a sister in law – 50 years old- who spends an average of 10 hours a day playing an on-line game and tells me about the friends she has made online over the years….I JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE MADNESS of this belief that any of these “friendships” are real!!!! The worst part is that she is a doctor and runs a clinic!!! (hence picks and chooses when she needs to be at work), sooooo….. supposedly NOT a stupid insividual!!!! Which makes the whole thing more frightening. I think this contributed to my interest in this book.

I am curious as what alerted you that Leila had Aspergers. What were the signs? Why not just introvert and antisocial? But thanks to this additional info it made the book so much more believable. Another great rec.

Ps. Any idea why the bee on the cover of the U.S edition?

Ifi, your comment about internet friendships made me think.

I’d say online friends can be friends-of-a-sort. In real life, you have friends that you might go shopping with, but not tell your whole life troubles to. Or someone is your “friend” because you meet up at the soccer training of your kids every week and have a lot of fun together.

So, I think you can have all kinds of friends for different situations. I would therefore definitely say that my online friends are friends, but I do know I might not like them at all in reality. In their role as online bookish friends, we get on just fine. That’s enough to call them friends.

Mmm… you are are quite right in when you say online friends can be friends-of-a-sort. Yes, I follow two book bloggers whose opinions about books I trust and respect enough to allow my reading tastes to be influenced by their opinions, so I guess, yes, they are online “friends”.

I have re-read my commet above and i suppose what I was trying to say was that I cannot understand the ease and extent to which people allow their online activity to become their REALITY and take over life. I find it scary when one’s interaction online in the gaming world exceeds the amount of time one spends with people in the physical world!! My sister-in-law’s 10+ hours online to me are incomprehnsibe. I see it as a pretty serious problem.

Maybe my problem lies with the word “friend” as far as the the traditional definition is concerned. Times have chaged and i guess one needs to stay current.
Sent from my iPad

Ah, yes! Seeing the online world as more important than reality is an issue and your SIL sounds way over the top. Maybe it’s a way for her to relax, but she’s taken it too far.

Judith/Ifi, What an interesting discussion! I’m more in Judith’s camp on this one. I agree about having friends that connect with different aspects of your life. I have friends I walk the dog with, friends with children the same age, friends who play board games with me and apart from a few closer friends they don’t often swap roles. Online friends are just another part of this. They fulfill a different need and there are some times when I prefer to “talk” through things without someone physically being there. They can provide support, entertainment or simply good book recommendations. Sometimes the relationship develops and I have gone on to meet a lot of people I’ve initially found online. It isn’t all bad, but I agree about the need for moderation and a sense of reality!

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