Okay I know! I said about 3 posts ago that I was going to be having a little break over the Christmas holidays but I seem to be completely unable to stop reading! Which means I simply have to keep writing reviews about the most amazing books coming out so that you can all read them and love them too! And I just knew I had compiled my top books of the year post too soon when I read Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land.
About this 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…
I actually passed over this book when I saw it up on netgalley as the blurb didn’t really draw me in and I mistakenly thought it to be YA which I don’t normally read. But then I started to see some very intriguing and positively glowing reviews start to appear and my fear of missing out kicked in. And thank goodness it did because I would have been seriously kicking myself if I had missed this utterly brilliant debut novel by Ali Land. If I have to be truthful though for about the first 5% I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about as it took me that long to get used to the unique storytelling voice that the author brings to approach her main characters thoughts and feelings. But once I found my reading rhythm this book did not leave my side and I read it into the wee small hours of the morning-sleep would have been difficult to achieve anyway, with my pounding heart and the obsessive thoughts twisting themselves around in my brain!
The themes of nature versus nurture are used to a truly terrifying affect here. It’s the one thing guaranteed to make me question everything I have ever learned about human nature. When Annie turns her serial killer mother over to the police she is put into foster care while she awaits the murder trial she has to give evidence for. Renamed Milly, she has to live within a family where their teenage daughter Phoebe is unaware of her past. As Milly gradually reveals to us the truth about her life with her mother, we also see her struggle to fit in with her peers due to her very different upbringing.
Most of what happened to Milly and to the children her mother is accused of murdering is handled without explicit content thankfully but I think that it actually hits you harder that way. It means you are left to imagine the horrors that faced Milly as a young girl and how it shaped her life both before and after her mother’s arrest. To hint at such an abhorrent crime without graphic details was an interesting but very clever tool. It kept the adrenaline pumping as we were drip fed information about Milly’s childhood until the full horror of what happened to her is upon us.
This is such an atmospheric and dark read. The characters were well projected, not too much information, just enough for us to get a taste of how they lived their lives within their own family boundaries. I desperately wanted Milly to have a good life and a happy ever after but how do you come back from such an upbringing? I found that the author seemed very aware of mental health issues and wrote confidently whenever these arose. But I tell you something, I would HATE to be a teenage girl again in this age of smartphones and social media and I’m not surprised by the problems that they have to face to “fit in”, just saddened.
This book is going to be huge next year and I’m very happy to recommend it to everyone I know! It was so much more than I was expecting and I hope to read more by Ali Land very soon.
Good Me Bad Me will be published by Penguin Michael Joseph on 12th January 2017 and is available to buy at Amazon UK.
Meet 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 a creative warehouse community in North London. Good Me Bad Me has been translated into over twenty languages.