Book Review: Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

‘NEW N A M E .
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… (from

Published 12th January 2017 by Michael Joseph, Penguin UK   

Woah, this was an intense read! I picked it up on Saturday night, immediately finding myself pulled in and consumed by this tragic, chilling and fascinating tale.

Good Me, Bad Me tells the story of fifteen year old Milly as she adjusts to a new life, new family and new identity. Daughter of a serial killer, it was she who turned her Mother into the police after years of abuse herself and now she must prepare to give evidence at her trial. It’s told completely in the first person from Milly, and Ali Land uses an unusual, but extremely effective style to get over her unique voice. Short, clipped, sometimes one word sentences give a flitting, intimate and authentic feel to the narrative, making me feel I was absolutely in Milly’s head as I read this book. So much so, that even an hour after I’d finished reading, I could still hear her voice running through my mind. It was completely consuming and brilliant.

Milly’s foster family add an extra layer of darkness to what is already a very dark and disturbing story. Mike’s job is to guide and prepare Milly for the upcoming trial, yet such a delicate and traumatic case seems misguided considering the dysfunctional and mental frailty of his own family. I didn’t understand him fully or his motives. It made me think perhaps the quest to help is more about the giver and what they get out of it: prestige, respect, admiration perhaps?  Mike’s own family are themselves deeply troubled, with his daughter Phoebe’s jealous, neglected and resentful personality creating an explosive environment for the traumatised and troubled Milly.

Ali Land writes Milly’s voice with astonishing authenticity as she struggles between hatred and love for her mother. Her confusion, fear and guilt create a roller coaster of heightened emotion which takes the reader swiftly alongside with chilling anticipation. As a reader, it provokes internal debate and doubt – Is Milly to be pitied or feared? Can she be accountable, or is she an innocent victim of her unfortunate circumstances? This isn’t a comfortable read, it prompts exploration of grey areas and left me mulling over things long after I’d finished. Milly’s voice was so distinctive, even now I can recall it vividly, making Good Me, Bad Me an unforgettable and compelling story. Intense, chilling and completely engrossing, this is definitely a book and author to watch out for.

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