> The Beesley Buzz: Kiss Me First - a mumsnet book club book review

Kiss Me First - a mumsnet book club book review


I have been trying to read a bit more myself since the kids returned to school after their time of homeschooling. So I was really happy when Mumsnet book club offered me the chance to review the new book Kiss me first by Lottie Moggach.

The only problem was that it was described as a thriller. I tend to avoid books and films described as thrillers as I usually find them a bit too scary these days, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I braced myself for the worst and got started on reading the book. 

And I read, and I read. In fact it is the only book I have read in its entirety in one single day. I read whilst Miss T had her nap. I read whilst the kids ate their dinner. I read into the evening instead of watching TV or turning the computer on. 

I've heard of books being described as 'unputdownable' and this really was the case with Kiss me first. Although it was certainly gripping, and even unnerving in places, it wasn't 'scary' in the gory horrific sense of the word like some other thrillers can be, so thankfully I didn't struggle to read it.

Whilst I'd imagine the the book would be relevant to most people who spend any time online, I think it would particularly resonate with those who are online focusssed, whether it be blogging, being on social media or online forums.

I had a friend who asked me just today 'what's the difference between twitter and a blog' which sounds like a ridiculous question but is actually a very real scenario. Not everyone is online and some restrict their online activities to researching holiday destinations and possibly a spot of online shopping but that is it. So I think some of the online references wouldn't be fully appreciated by those with less awareness of how the online world works - especially regarding social media.  

And yet I found myself nodding along to many of the things the main character Leila had to say about how facebook is used in the early part of the book. I too used to find those pointless updates and partying photos incredibly annoying when I first joined facebook. There were plenty of references to Google too and, although it currently appears as if Google is on track for world domination, who knows what turns the digital era has in store for us. When I think back to when I first started using the internet, there was no such term as 'googled' instead we used to 'Ask Jeeves' or search for things on 'Alta Vista' and 'Yahoo' (any one else remember those days or am I just showing my age now?) So will someone reading this book somewhere down the line in 10, maybe 20 years time, understand what Facebook, Google etc are all about. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.

Anyway, back to the book. Written more like a diary with dates rather than headings forming the chapters of the book, the book is written in the first person from the point of view of Leila - a stereotypical geeky nerdy online type who spends her days playing online computer games and on chat forums rather than socialising with friends in real life. 

I didn't find her a particularly likeable character but then again I don't think she was meant to be. Ditto for Tess, the next biggest character in the story. 

Without giving too much of the plot away, I did find myself secretly hoping for a happy ending, and did have my suspicions about a certain new facebook friend earlier on in the story. Like a lot of good novels, not all the loose ends are tied up at the end of the book, leaving room for either a glimmer of hope or a fear of what could go on to happen depending on how you look at things. 

With real life identity fraud on the increase, debates about euthanasia hitting the media on a regular basis, mental health being far less of a taboo subject and general fears being rife over what lies 'out there' on the Internet - this book is really on the pulse with the world's current malaises. 

Having said that, the core plot of the book doesn't revolve around any of those topics directly. Taking over the virtual identity of someone else with their consent doesn't quite fit traditional identity fraud and to do it not for personal or monetary gain adds an additional twist to the story. 

The fact that I read the whole book in one long sitting (when I have been known to take over a year to read books that I don't find gripping) should say it all. It is definitely well worth reading! 

In my mind, it did open up so many more questions, not just about how much of our lives are lived out online but also how easily someone can become so influential and powerful in the online world (sometimes wrongly so, as in the case of Adrian Dervish - another of the book's characters). 

Whilst we would like to think and hope that people do generally act morally and ethically, one of the beauties and benefits of blogging is to get your own views across even if they are different from everyone else's. And whilst there is nothing wrong with that per se, if you think for a moment how hard it would be for others to stand up against some of the biggest and most influential characters in the blogging world if it was ever necessary to do so, you can see how a situation like one in the book could arise. Add in a dose of compliments and flattery towards someone who is pretty much invisible in the real world and that vulnerability / power imbalance increases in a predator / prey relationship. 

Without meaning to unnecessarily frighten (like all areas of life there needs to be a healthy balanced view of the benefits versus the dangers of online life) it does make us aware of just how careful we should be with our digital footprint. And this is something that is only going to grow and grow in importance in our digital age. 

You can find out more about the book over at Mumsnet. There is also a very clever trailer to watch - I had to go and double-check my facebook profile afterwards to reassure myself!

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

For more information about Mumsnet Bloggers Network, see here.

2 comments:

  1. That does sound like a good read.
    It's funny you should say about your friend wanting to know the difference between a blog and Twitter, it reminded me of when my mother-in-law thought a blog was the same as Facebook!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we just take it for granted that everyone is familiar with online stuff and social media whereas actually I know a whole lot of people that aren't. xxx

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