Fifteen year old Milly was raised by a serial killer: her mother. When she finally breaks away and tells the police everything about her mother’s crimes and years of abuse, she is given a new identity and placed in an affluent foster family and an exclusive private school. She wrestles with being the daughter of a murderer and the love she still feels for her mother, despite her crimes, but her hopes are simple. Milly wants to be good. Then Milly’s foster sister, Phoebe, starts bullying her. A teacher may have discovered her secret. And her vulnerable best friend may be a perfect victim. As tensions rise and Milly begins to feel 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
Explosive, controversial and extraordinary; that is how I would best describe this magnificent book. This novel has chilled me to my core and has installed great horror inside of me, it was such a compelling, unique read that as I was reading it I kept thinking to myself “Surely this novel can’t get any better?!” but it did, it got better and better and upon finishing it all I could think was how much I loved it!
Good Me, Bad Me follows Annie, the daughter of an infamous serial killer knows as ‘The Peter Pan Killer’. Annie has suffered terribly all of her life at the hands of her sadistic mother but at the age of 15, she finally decides to inform the police about her mother’s heinous crimes after witnessing a murder so horrific that it has traumatized her for life. She walks into the police station with two items of evidence – tiny blood splattered dungarees and a blood-splattered teddy bear. To say the detectives are shocked is an understatement, they can’t even process what they are hearing but soon they set a plan in motion and on that very night they arrest the mother and she is jailed.
Annie is soon given a fresh start with the ‘perfect’ family called the Newmonts; she is given a new identity and is now called Milly. Milly is slowly but surely adjusting to her new life, her foster father is sympathetic and nice towards her; he himself is a psychologist and an expert in trauma so he is helping her wonderfully so and her foster mother is doting and wants to make sure she feels right at home. However just as she is starting to adjust to her new life the daughter of the foster parents – Phoebe, begins to hate Milly even more and it is very apparent that she does not want her there and will do anything to be rid of her…
Milly and Phoebe attend the same expensive, private school and although Phoebe is popular, Milly is not and she is horrifically bullied by her and her fellow friends day in, day out. It becomes a living hell for her and this is the last thing she needs given her tragic background but Milly won’t ask for help so she instead hides and tries to put it to the back of her mind. It soon becomes apparent to Milly that her foster family is not as perfect as she first thought and that Mike may not be as altruistic as she believed. On top of the bullying and the growing concerns about the family she shares a home with Milly is psychologically damaged and is under immense pressure, especially as she is preparing for the trial against her mother who she will have to sit across from in court and testify against and this is where our novel really starts.
Good Me, Bad Me is a tragically, dark suspenseful story that will end up haunting your dreams. It is a chilling read and an incredibly well-written, multi-layered Psychological Thriller. Psychological Thrillers are my absolute favorite kind of novels to read so I was destined to adore this from the start (if you want to read my review of my favorite Psychological Thriller of all time then head over to my review of Gone Girl! This novel is engrossing with a disturbing plot full of well-developed yet flawed characters.
Our protagonist Milly -previously known as Annie- was an incredible character. Seriously, she was brilliant and her thoughts kept me hooked until the very final page. As I was reading about her all I could think was that this girl is a deep and intricate thinker, her thoughts are haunting and incredibly sad and to be inside the mind of a traumatized teenager was really insightful and I have to applaud Land for her wonderful research. Ultimately Milly is a precious character and when she has nightmares and many sleepless nights you feel for her. She is haunted by feelings of guilt for the role she took in her mother’s crimes and doesn’t believe she will ever get past those feelings. The burdens of her past and trying to keep it all a secret is too much for Milly and you really feel for her; she did play a part in the children’s murders but she could not have stopped them and for this, you feel for her even more and the horrific conditions she was raised in. Just imagine being in Milly’s shoes…imagine if your mother was a serial killer or any other family member; it would be the most horrible thing on earth so the fact that Land has written such an important character and brilliantly so astounds me.
Land’s writing is impeccable and without it, this story would fall flat. There is a danger with these kinds of novels that the novel can just become a cheap thriller full of cheap thrills but this is not that kind of novel but rather a dark intricate look into the mind of a traumatized teenager and the effects that has on you. Her detailed research into victims of trauma really surprised me, she did not have to put so much research into her novel so the fact that she did and that she did it incredibly well made me adore her even more. Land wrote Milly’s character with such intensity and profoundness that sometimes it was a difficult read, the power of her words and her character development shocked me; she has truly created an authentic, brilliant character. Land writes with such profoundness and importance that as you turn the pages you are filled with trepidation at what is going to happen next. It is definitely a heart in your mouth read.
Good Me, Bad Me is a read which keeps you guessing until the very end and you are constantly as a reader making predictions about the novel and how it will turn out but just as you think your predictions are right, a few chapters later the novel changes course once again. These are the best kind of reads in my opinion because it shows how masterful an author is. It is so disappointing in my opinion to guess and foresee all of your predictions so the fact that I did not with this novel was incredible and when I reached the ending everything I had thought about the story, the characters, the plot, everything was wrong and that is all down to Lands masterful writing! Land had many amazing plot devices throughout this novel, one of them being Milly repeating the story of her life to the detectives at the beginning of the novel but also her plot device of Milly having ongoing conversations with her mother inside of her head was frankly mind-blowing and one of the smartest plot devices I have ever read as it gives the reader a terrific insight into the toxic environment Milly grew up in and how her mother groomed her from a very young age to be a murderer. The plot, the characters, the exceptional writing makes this one of the most thrilling reads I have ever experienced.
To summarise, if you adore Psychological Thrillers just like me then you will adore this novel! It is exceptional and will keep you hooked and horrified to the very last page. This book gets Four Stars from me because it gripped me and shook me to my core and it is very hard to do this to a reader who has read many psychological thrillers so well done you Ali Land!
Thank you so much as ever for reading book lovers! I appreciate it so much. Please do comment below what you think of this novel and whether you could see yourself reading it. Do you like Psychological Thrillers? Let me know and also let me know how you would feel if one of your family members was a serial killer like Milly’s mother in the book, I would be terrified!