Leila lives with her mother who is suffering with multiple sclerosis. After her mom passes away, she moves to a flat and she works as a website tester, which she can work from home. Since her job doesn't need her to be in a full-time commitment, she has a lot of time for games and ends up discovering the Red Pill website where she engages in philosophical debate and becomes a trusted member.
Since then, she spends most of her time exchanging philosophical views with others on the Red Pill website. When approached by the site's founder, Adrian, she feels flattered with an invitation to be part of "Project Tess". Leila agrees to act as Tess, a depressive woman who wants to commit suicide without hurting her family or friends. Leila learns every detail about Tess's life, leading up to the day Tess disappears so she can start with her impersonation job. Everything is going fine as they planned, until she meets someone who is not important in Tess's life but Leila has a different opinion about him. As she gets too obsessive with this person, she never expects a devastating consequence from that.
Despite this being the author's first book, this story is brilliantly written with an outstanding plot. It will definitely leave a strong impression to readers after reading the story. This will be a great book for youngsters as it tells a young girl who is too attached to the Internet world and how her life was almost ruined by her Internet addiction. I liked the ending when her social life has changed.
Leila is a very complicated character. I felt my feelings towards Leila was being teased by the author from the very beginning of the story. I sympathised with her naiveness after her mom passed away and nobody can offer her any advice or guidance in her life. In the meantime, I felt intolerable with her stubbornness, naiveness, and defensiveness even though it's pretty obvious that what she did was not right but she felt there's nothing wrong with it. There were a lot of mixed feelings and contradicting thoughts about the main character and plot. In a random thought, sometimes, I felt Leila and Tess are the disassociation of Lisbeth from the book 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'.
Several quotes I had picked from the book:
I remember Tess once saying that sometimes when she was depressed she felt like she was just a sum of her parts, her upbringing and influences - that there was nothing intrinsically, uniquely "her".
"I pretended that it wasn't such a big deal, that I knew we weren't suited, that I agreed with what-ever bullshit rationale you used - 'we don't make each other the best possible versions of ourselves' or what-ever. But you did make me the best 'me'."
"People and things would continue to exist in a world where I did not, and no one would ever think of me. And, if that was the case, then what was the point of existing in the first place?" I could just expire here, under this tree.
I think I’m starting to accept that life isn’t black-and-white, that there isn’t an answer to every question. Some areas will always remain gray, and perhaps that’s not a bad thing.
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: Kiss Me First.