‘NEW N A M E .
NEW F A M I L Y.
S H I N Y.
ME . ‘
Annie’s mother is a serial killer.
The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.
But out of sight is not out of mind.
As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.
A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.
But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.
Good me, bad me.
She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…
Good Me, Bad Me is one of those books that seems to have gotten a lot of hype. They’re the type of books I normally stay away from – at least when they are first released, frightened I’ll be disappointed. In this case, though, I couldn’t resist. The description sounded right up my street and also a little different from my usual reads. I have to say I’m glad I took the plunge because it was different and just what I needed after a string of not so hot books.
It starts with Milly (or Annie as she was) turning her mother into the police for child abuse and murder. It’s a shocking opening and grabs you immediately, presenting you with an image that isn’t graphic in any way but still stays with you throughout the book. You are left in no doubt Milly’s mom is guilty and a monster, someone who should go to prison for a very long time.
What you aren’t so sure about is Milly, who is the only voice you hear in the book, as she tries to settle with her new foster family and prepare for the court case where she will be the “star” witness. Starting a new life isn’t easy and her foster sister, Phoebe, isn’t happy to have her around, especially as Milly takes up too much of her parents’ time. Phoebe goes out of her way to make life difficult for Milly, who only seems to want to be friends – well, just make friends in general, she is a lonely girl.
Or at least that’s what it seems like at first because there is a darker side to Milly and, after being drawn in by her story and feeling a lot of sympathy for her, I started to feel unsure. Slowly, secrets from her past are revealed and she does things that maybe aren’t as nice as she would want you to believe. I couldn’t tell if I was being played, if Milly was maybe a chip of the old block, or if her behaviour was a result of her wanting to fit in and be loved.
It made for a compelling read and I found Milly a compelling character, one I wanted to understand but was also maybe a little afraid of, very much like the people around her. They wanted to be sympathetic, wanted to believe she was an innocent victim, but wondered – was she really? Or at least I think that’s what they thought because the only voice you hear is Milly’s so you only get her take on what is said and done. It’s her version – and the question is whether it’s the true one.
I thought Ali Land did a really good job with Milly, of creating someone you didn’t know if you liked but felt you should give a chance to because of what had happened to her. By making her 15, going on 16, it did feel like there was a grey area there – that nagging question of why Milly maybe hadn’t done something sooner to speak out. Some of these things are answered in the book but I won’t say because of spoilers but there are a few times when I had “lightbulb” moments, where Milly would reveal something or do something that completely changed my opinion of her.
Of course, because this is Milly’s story, you don’t get to know the other characters that well and the foster family are somewhat two dimensional as a result. Then again, as Milly’s character starts to emerge, maybe this was on purpose, because in a way they weren’t necessarily real to her but people to be manipulated to reach an end. Her mother was much more real, or at least a very real monster.
Seen through the eyes of Milly you see confusion, this is a woman who she loved but also hated. You never meet her or hear from her directly but she dominates a lot of the pages. And you see through Milly’s memories and nightmares of her just what type of woman her daughter might become. I liked this about the book, that I kept second guessing myself about Milly.
In fact, there wasn’t much I didn’t like if I’m honest, other than maybe the final twist. I am not sure I needed that. I felt I had a good ending, a slightly ambiguous one that seemed to go with the Milly I knew. So, although I was proved right in the final chapter, I would have liked to have been left with a bit of a question mark. It’s a small thing and didn’t stop me liking the book though, which I did – a lot (if you can like a book about a child murderer, which I guess is another post entirely!).
Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 12th January, 2017
Format: eBook (Kindle)
Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.
I just read another review on this, how exciting does this one sound. I enjoy thrillers were you are unsure of the characters and what they are saying or not saying. This is definitely on my list for this year, I may request from NetGalley.
I think they make the best thrillers, not knowing if you can trust anyone. I hope you enjoy if you get a copy.
I have this one on my list. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing….
I hope you enjoy…it was a good if disturbing read.
This book was on my wait list until I saw your review as I felt it could either be really really good or really really awful. I’m so glad to see that it was a good read and dark and twisty. I like characters that you just can’t figure out if it’s done well which sounds like is the case here.
It really is worth a read. Milly is so interesting. Plus I liked that it was a horrible subject but not explicit. It was very mentally challenging to read. Enjoy if you do.
Great review Emma! The uncertainty I had about Milly made this a totally compelling read, which I liked but this book was very unsettling too…
Thank you. I agree it was unsettling. I couldn’t help but like it though. I enjoyed being made uneasy, which isn’t always the case.
[…] Monday, I reviewed Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land, one of the “it” books of the moment I think. I really enjoyed it, though it is a […]
[…] Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land, a book that is supposed to be one of the books of the year and I can see why. It’s the story of a 15 year old daughter of a serial killer and how she comes to terms with not only what her mother has done but what she has done to survive. Compelling. […]