There had been a lot of buzz around Good Me Bad Me, by Ali Land, prior to its publication. It has apparently already been translated into over 20 languages, which is pretty good going for a debut novel that’s only been out a month, so when it came up on Netgalley, I was clicking that button as quickly as possible, even though it’s not my usual kind of book. I was glad I did.
‘NEW NAME .
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 a fascinating look at how Milly has been affected by her mother’s actions. It’s written in the first person so we see and feel everything the way that Milly does, from her memories of what her mother did to her and other children, through her guilt of still wanting to please her mum, to her fear that maybe she’s exactly the same. Land drip feeds us information, never really showing us the full picture, just Milly’s interpretation of it, which makes the book gripping and leaves us desperate to know what’s going to happen.
Milly is such a great character. She’s clearly (and understandably) traumatised by the time she’s spent with her mum, but she can’t stop herself remembering and using the lessons she learned. The fact that she’s been placed in a foster family that has its own issues doesn’t help, because it just makes them easier to manipulate. Every time we learn something new about Milly’s childhood though, we’re horrified afresh, and so we never lose sympathy for her.
There were a few things I found annoying, mostly Milly’s way of thinking in very short, truncated sentences, but it is entirely possible this is a quirk of the ARC formatting and isn’t in the finished book. And there is a certain group of characters who are so mean that it’s difficult to have any sort of empathy with them at all. But these are minor points, and overall I really enjoyed this book.
ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review