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Good Me Bad Me: A Novel Hardcover – September 5, 2017
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An Amazon Best Book of September 2017: Who hasn’t wanted to do a very bad thing? Fifteen-year-old Milly battles these urges daily, but she not only has the desire to be wicked; she’s had the training to make her impulses reality. The daughter of a female serial killer who preyed on young children, Milly was raised in a nightmare of abuse and butchery. By turning in her mother to the police, Milly has escaped. But has she really?
Debut author Ali Land is devious: She only hints at the horrors Milly experienced, forcing the reader to fill in the gaps. A brief scene in which Milly dissects a pig heart in biology class includes the chilling, almost throwaway line, “I know a lot about a person’s insides.” Milly wants her “good me” aspect to win, but relentless bullying at school, her unhealthy friendship with another lost teen, and the pressure of testifying against her mother gnaw at Milly, allowing her darker instincts to ooze through her defenses. Your own impulses will veer between wanting to protect Milly and dreading what she’s capable of. Readers will have differing reactions to the ending, so when you’ve finished Good Me Bad Me, swiftly hand it over to a friend so you can unravel the conclusion together. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review
“Unnerving... Land is a mental health nurse who has worked with traumatized children, and her portrait of Milly has a powerful sense of authenticity.”
―New York Times Book Review
“A terrific voyage into the teenage psyche…Land has written an intense, insightful first novel; its believable characters caught up in realistic situations will make the reader think more deeply about teenage mental health. Fans of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why will enjoy this book immensely.”
―Library Journal, starred review
“A deliberate pace and a skillfully woven plot conspire to create a visceral read that’s at once a gripping psychological thriller and a devastating exploration of the damage wrought by childhood trauma.”
―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Fall's most delicious thriller... A gripping psychological suspense that will captivate your imagination from the first page to the last.”
“The fifteen-year-old narrator of Ali Land’s Good Me Bad Me has a lot in common with Lisbeth Salander… This remarkable debut...will grip you to the very end. Good Me Bad Me is a strong, assured, very special psychological thriller.”
―Open Letters Monthly
“Good Me, Bad Me hooked me from the start. The writing is clear and direct, but also has a quiet sort of elegance to it,and an almost musical lilt...Keeps up a delightfully tense atmosphere that had me turning the pages until the early hours of the morning...I was enthralled with the suspense and intrigue, and think fans of famed author Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects might find their next favorite read in this exciting debut.”
“Part of the fun of reading a book like Ali Land’s Good Me Bad Me is the anticipation of what’s to come... Fortunately, Land delivers on all accounts… Land expertly captures the angst and trauma of teenage adolescence through Milly’s compelling narrative voice. The result is a starkly realized and haunting thriller.”
“A sense of creeping dread drives the narrative, and that most fascinating of crime-novel subjects, the female serial killer, casts a formidable shadow…Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast. Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.”
“Land coolly ratchets up tension and takes the reader into a damaged mind, exploring the question of nature versus nurture, and the possibility of redemption. Good Me Bad Me is a heartbreaking, breathtaking chill of a book.”
“The kind of unreliable narrator who has fascinated readers of The Girl on the Train and other such novels....A gripping tale in the cutting voice of a teen antiheroine.”
“An intensely compelling exploration of nature versus nurture wrapped up in a page-turning psychological thriller. Darkly disturbing and beautifully written.”
―Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes
“Original and compelling - what a sensational debut!”
―Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author of I Let You Go
“A gripping, psychological rollercoaster, Good Me Bad Me is an unputdownable read that will leave readers wondering just how much control they have over their own fate.”
“Who’s going to be the next Gillian Flynn or Paula Hawkins or Ruth Ware? Ali Land, that’s who....Reader, I was enthralled.”
“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, New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Book
“Unbelievably good, utterly gripping.”
―Jill Mansell, internationally bestselling author of Rumor Has It
“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, bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
“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, internationally bestselling author of Dear Amy
“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, internationally bestselling author of Black-Eyed Susans
“An astoundingly compelling thriller. Beyond tense. You hardly breathe. Best read in ages.”
―Matt Haig, author of The Humans and Reasons to Stay Alive
“Intelligent and disturbing, Good Me Bad Me had me hooked from the first page.”
―Debbie Howells, author of 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
“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.”
“A gripping tale about a teenage girl waiting to give evidence at her serial-killer mother's trial. Unsettling and unforgettable.”
“Incredible, very special.”
―Radio 4's Open Book
“Uncomfortable, shocking, and totally compelling, put this to the top of your to-read pile.”
“Unsettling. Holds our attention from the opening page. There is so much to praise here.”
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But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.
When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.
My Thoughts: In Milly’s first person narrative voice, we see the world around her from her perspective, and it is a sad, emotionally devastating world.
Living in the foster home of a psychologist named Mike, one would think she would have the best care and treatment available to her, but early on I could tell that Mike had his own agenda, and he could also be clueless about his own family. His wife, Saskia, is remote and probably narcissistic, and his teenage daughter Phoebe is able to hide her feelings, her attitudes, and her behavior. Not just in a typical teenage way, but in a hurtful, pathological way.
Milly, on the other hand, proves to be adept at her own secret agenda, and as more time goes by, we see her behavior ratchet up to an extremely manipulative level as she hears her mother’s imaginary voice guiding her and reminding her that she has to make her own wishes come true.
What will Milly do to secure her future? How does Phoebe’s behavior backfire on her? And how, finally, does Milly have the last word? A chilling story, Good Me, Bad Me captured me and held me hostage for the duration. 5 stars.
Before long, Milly, already struggling with so much, is being bullied by Phoebe and her friends. Needing an alliance, she befriends Morgan – a younger girl from the local estate. She needs someone to trust with her secrets, but who can she turn to? Milly is a very sympathetic character, but we are always aware that there are secrets surrounding her mother’s crimes and that she knows more about than she admits. This is a very interesting novel, which looks at the effects of a young child in a terribly dysfunctional home, with a mother who commits the most terrible crimes and abuses her. Is she guilty – is she implicated in some way? If Mike and his family are unwilling to keep her, where will she go after the trial and, is she enough her mother’s daughter, to change events?
I found this a truly gripping read. It made me consider the way that Milly sees herself, the fact that she cannot be expected to slot into a ‘normal’ family dynamic after her early life and the way that no family is really ‘normal.’ Mike’s family certainly is not a particularly happy one, whatever his cheery, outward demeanour. Meanwhile, Milly’s mother, although not really present in the novel, is an overwhelming, evil presence throughout – which was cleverer than having her as a character we actually witness committing her crimes. Instead, we have the implications of her crimes, plus Milly’s haunted memories and her physical, and mental, scars. I have to admit that I liked Milly a lot and felt a great deal of sympathy with her; despite the fact she is all too aware of her ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides. The twists in this novel were a little obvious, but I really enjoyed the story so much that I was happy to be immersed in it and could hardly put it down.
This is a demented, deranged, and unhinged story that you can't step away from. Ali Land nails the notion of the human tendency to attain power over others for self-preservation. She braves the boundaries of evil vs decency. I applaud her courageous and bold undertaking of a very complex character and scenario. I see a movie being made out of this novel, for sure.