What We're Reading: Kismet, By Luke Tredget
Anna is 29 years old, and grappling with the central question of her life: is it time to settle for a secure and predictable existence, or should she risk everything for a life of passion and adventure? Her attempt to answer this centres on Kismet, a phone-based matchmaking app that has now replaced traditional dating.
Kismet works by compiling people’s online behaviour – the sites they visit, the items they buy, the films they watch, the things they say – and showing their compatibility with passers-by as a percentage score.
But Anna isn’t looking for love, or not exactly. She is already in a relationship with Pete, who is attractive, funny and kind, but she worries about their lacklustre Kismet score of 70, especially when she discovers that he plans to ask her to marry him on her 30th birthday. She secretly re-joins Kismet, and soon encounters Geoff, a dashing, forty-something journalist with whom she has a compatibility of 81%.
She approaches her birthday in a frenzy of indecision, and as the moment of Pete’s proposal nears, she finds herself faced with a decision that will bring everything into question – her job, her friends, her entire life.
Kismet perfectly captures the reality of dating in a world of curated online profile and endless Tinder swiping.
I was immediately excited upon receiving Kismet in the post to review that I'd be reading a book in which the protagonist shared my name. They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but my first impression was just how beautiful yet simple the cover art is, and it made me want to get stuck into reading straight away. However, given that the blurb makes it sound like a romance novel, I wasn't immediately struck and didn't feel I'd relate to my namesake too well. Weirdly the book was relatable to me in many other ways, with dating apps, Sheffield University, Malmö, chai, Iris, and Kilburn all being aspects of my life right now.
Whilst I'm somewhat fed up of cliché straight romances, Kismet surprised me. I enjoyed it so much, and it was very different to what I expected. Kismet is a dating app which knows everything about you by gathering your internet habits, allowing it to match you up with similar people nearby by allocating you a compatibility score. My first thoughts were that it sounds perhaps a little like something from an episode of Black Mirror, but equally that it seems appealing to take the endless swiping and creepy pick up lines out of dating apps. Anna suspects that her long term partner Pete is about to propose, so she signs up to Kismet to meet other people in order to test her feelings. This gave me a lot of thoughts about fidelity in the internet age - do dating apps make it easier to cheat? Or is it just harder to hide an affair when social media reveals our every move? I enjoyed the witty, well written take on dating apps and it was definitely a considered perspective of where the future will take us.
Anna isn't always a particularly likeable character - her willingness to cheat made me feel uneasy- but she is the epitome of the struggling millennial to whom I think a lot of us can relate. She's stuck in a below average job, always wanting to further her career but lacking opportunity to be a real writer. Maybe I'm not quite at that stage yet (having just turned 21) but a lot of my friends are in similar difficult situations, with London not quite the land of opportunity it is hyped up to be. Her unfulfilled ambitions struck me though, with myself also having a long list of projects I've yet to set into motion.
I think it was an all round good novel though, which kept me gripped, especially towards the end (I always love an unexpected plot twist), and if you're into romance, this will definitely be your thing. Even if you're not, it's still a great read!
Kismet is available now from Faber & Faber, £12.99 hardback and £6.66 ebook