Today I bring you… surprise, surprise, a thriller. This one has made it quite big, especially in the UK. I couldn’t find it in Kindle version in the US, but I suspect it’s a matter of time only…
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY, CONTROVERSIAL AND EXPLOSIVE DEBUTS OF 2017, Good Me Bad Me is for fans of quality psychological suspense and reading group fiction.
‘The new Girl on The Train, which was the new Gone Girl. You get the picture. This psycho-thriller by Ali Land is set to be massive’ Cosmopolitan
‘Incredible, very special’ Radio 4’s Open Book
‘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…
Translated into over 20 languages, Good Me Bad Me is a tour de force. In its narrator, Milly Barnes, we have a voice to be reckoned with, and in its author, Ali Land, an extraordinary new talent.
‘A novel of complex motivations that will test readers’ capacity for empathy, Good Me Bad Me is already a strong contender for debut of the year’ The Irish Times
‘Gripping, unsettling and unforgettable’ Heat
‘Frightening and enthralling’ Grazia
‘Unsettling. Holds our attention from the opening page. There is so much to praise here’ Guardian
‘Spellbinding. Will have you on the edge of your seat. Sure to be a big talking point this year’ Daily Express
‘A creepy, compulsive thriller I read in one breathless gulp. Good Me Bad Me reveals its shocking secrets slowly while reeling in the reader with all the intricate skill of a spider spinning a web. One not to be missed’ Red
‘Original and compelling – what a sensational debut!’ Clare Mackintosh, number one bestselling author of I See You and I Let You Go
‘An astoundingly compelling thriller. Beyond tense. You hardly breathe. Best read in ages’ Matt Haig
‘Intelligent and disturbing, Good Me Bad Me had me hooked from the first page’ Debbie Howells, author of Richard & Judy book club bestseller The Bones of You
The new Girl on The Train, which was the new Gone Girl. You get the picture. This psycho-thriller by Ali Land is set to be massive (Cosmopolitan)
A gripping tale about a teenage girl waiting to give evidence at her serial-killer mother’s trial. Unsettling and unforgettable (Heat)
Incredible, very special (Radio 4’s Open Book)
Uncomfortable, shocking, and totally compelling, put this to the top of your to-read pile (Sun)
Unsettling. Holds our attention from the opening page. There is so much to praise here (Guardian)
Had me on the edge of my seat from the first page (Women & Home)
Could not be more unputdownable if it was slathered with superglue (Sunday Express)
Frightening, enthralling, utterly compelling. Everyone’s scrabbling for the new Girl on the Train to get their thriller fix. And 2017’s ‘one’ looks set to be Good Me Bad Me. A gripper. You’ll be hooked (Grazia)
A dark, intensely compelling debut. Terrifying (Daily Mail)
Good Me Bad Me is the story of a girl who hands her serial killer mother over to the police. With a new life and new, welcoming family, she prepares for the coming trial. But this is a battle of wills, of nature versus nurture – of good against bad . . . (from the publisher’s description)
This superbly dark, twister chiller is as gripping as they come (Heat)
An astoundingly compelling thriller. Beyond tense. You hardly breathe. Best read in ages (Matt Haig)
Intelligent and disturbing, Good Me Bad Me had me hooked from the first page (Debbie Howells, author of Richard & Judy book club bestseller The Bones of You)
Milly’s voice is gripping and shocking. This is a book you will want to discuss with everyone you know (Claire Douglas, author of The Sisters and Local Girl Missing)
I absolutely loved it and read it in less than a day. A proper page turner and brilliantly written (Edith Bowman)
A triumph of tension. I doubt I’ll ever sleep again (Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of R&J bestseller The Last Act of Love)
Good Me Bad Me is a novel that explodes off the page, with beautifully drawn characters and carefully executed pace. Heart rending, engrossing and ultimately terrifying, you’ll be thinking about it a long time after you’ve turned the final page (Rowan Coleman, author of R&J bestseller The Memory Book)
Unbelievably good, utterly gripping (Jill Mansell)
This book is a work of twisted genius. It is going to be HUGE. Watch out for Ali Land (Bryony Gordon)
Listen to the early praise for Ali Land’s Good Me Bad Me because it’s all true. It’s dark, utterly gripping, brilliant (David Headley, Goldsboro Books)
I read this book in one compulsive gulp over two days and absolutely loved it. It’s raw, superbly controlled and it chills to the bone (Richard Skinner)
You know from the first page you’re in confident hands. A genuinely disturbing debut that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Good Me Bad Me is going to be huge – and it deserves to be (Catherine Ryan Howard)
Good Me Bad Me is utterly compelling. Ali Land writes with such clarity, and such imagination, you will fall into her world on the very first page and find yourself unable to leave. An extraordinary and breath-taking debut (Joanna Cannon, author of Sunday Times bestseller The Trouble with Goats and Sheep)
The best crime debut I’ve read in ages. Creepy, edgy and addictively twisted. I loved it (Sarah Hilary)
Ali Land’s Good Me Bad Me is an intensely compelling exploration of nature versus nurture wrapped up in a page-turning psychological thriller. Darkly disturbing and beautifully written. What more could any reader want? (Sarah Pinborough)
Good Me Bad Me is an astonishing debut – technically sophisticated and emotionally heart wrenching. So many things are done well – the status jungle of girls school, the psychological dissonance of a dysfunctional family, the internal machinery of damaged children. I thought it was wonderful (Helen Callaghan, bestselling author of Dear Amy)
One word: Wow. What a brilliant book – believable, shocking, thought-provoking and utterly compelling. The writing, as well as being so pacey, is beautiful. This feels such a current and original book (T R Richmond)
Good Me Bad Me is a compelling page-turner. Chilling and dark, it grips you and won’t let go (Rebecca Done)
Ten pages into Good Me Bad Me, I became an Ali Land fan. Her beautiful, intimate voice immediately tugged me into the heart and mind of a serial killer’s daughter and then wouldn’t let go. Is there hope for this teenager’s new life outside of her mother’s horror? Original, intense, and utterly compelling, Good Me Bad Me is not just a terrific thriller but a psychological dive into a young girl’s soul. It takes subtlety and perfect balance to maintain a dark tale like this, and Land never once stutters or makes you look away (Julia Heaberlin, author of Sunday Times bestseller Black-Eyed Susans)
The new Girl on The Train, which was the new Gone Girl… You get the picture. This psycho-thriller by Ali Land is set to be massive (Cosmopolitan)
2017’s most hotly anticipated psychological thriller (Stylist)
A creepy, compulsive thriller I read in one breathless gulp… Good Me Bad Me reveals its shocking secrets slowly while reeling in the reader with all the intricate skill of a spider spinning a web. One not to be missed (Red Magazine)
Dark, claustrophobic and thought-provoking. You’ll read this outstanding debut while holding your breath! (Prima Magazine)
An incredible narrative voice . . . Very special and different (Radio 4’s Open Book)
Terrifyingly good. The terror of Liz Nugent mixed with the teen angst of Louise O’Neill (The Irish Examiner)
Frightening and enthralling
A novel of complex motivations that will test readers’ capacity for empathy, Good Me Bad Me is already a strong contender for debut of the year (The Irish Times)
Gripping from the first page (Elle UK)
Paperback in the US:
About the author:
After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health nurse in hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia. Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in North London. Good Me Bad Me has been translated into over twenty languages.
There isn’t much in the author’s page on Amazon, but there’s a mine of information, interviews, etc. at her author’s page in Penguin:
Thanks to NetGalley and to Penguin for offering me a free ARC of this novel that I voluntarily chose to review.
This novel has Annie, a sixteen years old girl, as narrator and she tells us, in the first person, what happens when she reports her mother to the police. Her mother is a serial killer. Worse than that, she’s killed 9 children (allegedly). Whilst they are waiting for the trial, she is placed with a foster family and given a new identity (she becomes Milly). Her new family has its problems too. Mike, the father, is a psychologist and seems the most together in the family although he doesn’t realise he might be biting more than he can chew. Saskia, the mother, has problems in her relationship with her daughter and drinks and takes too many pills. Phoebe is a queen bee and not very nice at all. The dog is OK, though. Milly tries to fit in with the new family while getting ready for the trial. It is not easy.
I’m always intrigued by how writers use their narrators and here Milly (Annie) is pretty unreliable. She is very good at keeping under wraps some of the information and only revealing or suggesting other. She talks to her mother, whose voice she seems to have internalised (giving a clear indication of the effect such toxic people would have in the lives of those around them) and has a running conversation with her, convinced that her mother is still playing games with her. Milly insists on giving evidence because in some way that will give her closure (perhaps). She second-guesses not only her mother but all around her; a habit we guess must have grown from trying to survive in an extremely hostile environment.
Milly’s new life has difficulties, as Phoebe, who doesn’t know her circumstances, is jealous of the attention her father gives her and is quite bitchy. She bullies her and gets her friends to do the same at school. Milly manages to make a friend but her relationship with Morgan, a girl from a neighbouring estate, has very worrying traits and is not the healthiest.
The story is well written and paced, revealing information at a slow pace and keeping us intrigued. The subject matter is very hard, but the worst of the violence is psychological and there are few details given although we get to imagine terrible things. There is an air of threat and impending doom hanging over the novel that the author achieves by cleverly hiding some information and foreshadowing other events that not always take place.
The writer, who had worked nursing young people in mental health settings, creates a good plot and it’s difficult not to let our mind wonder and wander, worrying about what might come next.
I’ve read some of the comments about the novel and although most are positive, some of the negative ones deserve some discussion. Some people query the voice of the narrator, whom they feel is very articulate and adult-sounding for a sixteen-year-old. She is very articulate. She is also a girl who’s survived to incredible life events and who’s evidently very intelligent and even gifted (if we’re to judge by the comments of her art teacher) and she’s very good at self-censoring and manipulating others (and perhaps herself and us too). It is not easy to sympathise with her at an emotional level, although rationally it is impossible not to empathise and it might also depend on the reader (and our feelings change as we read on). There are comments about how Milly seems to behave too rationally and how somebody subjected to the abuse and trauma she has suffered would be much more affected. There is no fast and hard rule on that matter and one can’t help but wonder about Milly’s own personality. As she notes, she’s her mother’s daughter. Some of the reviewers felt that the rest of the characters are one-dimensional and have no depth but we need to remember the book is narrated from Milly’s point of view and she’s very self-centered and sees other characters only in the light of their interaction with her, not as individuals with other interests and full lives (her relationship with the art tutor is illustrative of that, although the school doesn’t do a very good job there either).
There are some points that are perhaps given too much emphasis (they are going to perform Lord of the Flies at the school, very aptly and that is subject of much discussion, therefore calling attention once more to children and violence), and we are given data that ends up becoming a red herring or doesn’t go anywhere (Milly discovers information about some of the characters that makes us wonder what’s going to happen next and… nothing does). Personally, I think all of it helps create a picture of the central character as a contradictory individual, who is trying to not be like her mother but at the same time can’t help but want her mother’s approval, and who perhaps has realised that being bad has its pluses too, as long as you don’t get caught.
The ending won’t disappoint, although I think many of us might have suspected what was going to happen but not perhaps how the author builds up to it, and as I said, we might have thought there was more to come.
In summary a disquieting and chilling book, that’s not heavy on explicit violence but explores the darker recesses of the mind of somebody affected by an extremely dysfunctional childhood. A word of warning, although there’s very little explicit violence, I know some readers prefer not to read thrillers where children are the victims and suffer abuse and that’s the case here.
Thanks to NetGalley, Penguin and the author for her book, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!