Book Review: ‘Kiss Me First’ by Lottie Moggach

Kiss Me FirstKiss Me First’ is a thoroughly modern book centring on a girl called Leila, who is convinced by an internet cult leader to take over the online life of Tess, a suicidal woman who wants to disappear from the world without hurting her family.  This might sound relatively fanciful, but in the skilled hands of debut author Lottie Moggach, the story becomes believable and engaging.

Of course there are fundamental questions about the plot – could this really happen?  Wouldn’t your parents want to speak with you? Wouldn’t they experience exactly the same grief, just delayed?  But ‘Kiss Me First’ is a work of fiction, and if one can just suspend their disbelief for a couple of days, it’s a very enjoyable work indeed.

The combination of a fresh, modern premise and a captivating, unique voice is a recipe for a spell-binding book.  To my mind, Ms Moggach’s best skill is her character building.  Leila is the very definition of an unreliable narrator; she is a lonely, fastidious figure with something of a social disability.  Even from the little we see of her, we know Tess is impulsive and narcissistic.  It is very easy to be drawn by them into the unusual but fascinating world of assisted suicide.

I listened to this book, so I was helped along the way by an excellent voice artist (Imogen Church), providing emphasis and tone which helped you understand that the narrator, Leila, was not wholly accustomed to the world the way you and I were.  This is easy when listening to an audiobook, but takes real skill on the part of the writer to convey to those reading the traditional way.

That’s not to say that there weren’t a few gaps in the narrative.  The ending itself was a little dissatisfying and there were a number of loose ends which felt hastily wrapped up, like a good editor had been heavy with the red pen.   But on the whole it is an intelligent, insightful book written in a beguiling voice, and even without the heavy marketing budget the publishers seem to have allocated this book, I’ve no doubt it would been successful.

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