This chilling and intense novel tells the story of a solitary young woman drawn into an online world run by a charismatic web guru who entices her into impersonating a glamorous but desperate woman. Now a series on Netflix.
A sheltered young woman raised by a single mother, Leila often struggled to connect with the girls at school. On an internet community for philosophical and ethical debate, she finally comes into her own, and is flattered when the website’s brilliant, charismatic founder invites her to be part of Project Tess. Communicating only through online channels, Leila immerses herself in Tess’s world. She must learn every detail about this other woman’s life: her mother’s birthday, her favorite songs, her best friends, her first kiss. Because soon, Leila will have to become her. And Tess will disappear.
The Guardian First Book Prize
British National Book Award--New Writers Award
Moggach's impressive debut, a gripping psychological thriller, is all the more disturbing for its plausibility. Introverted nerd Leila finds a group of friends of sorts after discovering Red Pill, a Web discussion list that debates philosophical matters in a Randian fashion. For the first time, Leila has people who care what she thinks. Among them is Red Pill's founder, Adrian. After he builds up Leila's confidence, making her feel like she's something special, he asks her to perform a disturbing act: he wants her to take over the online life of Tess, a troubled woman who plans to commit suicide without letting anyone know. As Leila immerses herself in Tess's life in preparation to take it over via Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail, she becomes increasingly attached to the task, relishing creating an imaginary life not realizing that Adrian's motivations for the identity theft are vastly different than they appear to be. Moggach's skill in plotting means readers won't anticipate the twists and turns built into the story, making for an intensely enjoyable reading experience. Memorable and fast-moving.