Review: Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land @byAliLand @MichaelJBooks

Release date: January 12, 2017

Publisher: Michael Joseph Books

Genre: Psychological Thriller


SET TO BE ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY, CONTROVERSIAL AND EXPLOSIVE DEBUTS OF 2017 – for fans of quality psychological suspense and reading group fiction: once you read this book you’ll want to talk about it.

‘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…

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.

Praise for Good Me Bad Me

‘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

‘This book is a work of twisted genius. It is going to be HUGE. Watch out for Ali Land’ Bryony Gordon

‘Unbelievably good, utterly gripping’ Jill Mansell, bestselling author of You & Me Always 


This was a powerful read for me, one of those books that stays with you long after you turn the last page. Milly in particular is still lingering in the back of my mind, clearly she captivated me even if I’m still not quite sure exactly how I feel about her. Good Me Bad Me is a unique story and one that left a lasting impression on me.

Milly’s mother is a serial killer and she’s had enough, so she turns her in to the police. We meet Milly as she’s getting ready to live with her new foster family; father Mike, mother Saskia and daughter Phoebe. To Milly, they seem like the perfect family, everything she’s never had. Mike doubles as her psychologist which is interesting but also seems to blur the lines a bit. Saskia is a flighty, disengaged woman and Phoebe is a classic high school mean girl. She is not pleased that her family has taken Milly in and she doesn’t even know the truth. The only people who are aware what Milly’s mother has done is Mike, Saskia and the headmaster at her new private school.

This is an intense character study inside the mind of Milly. She’s understandably struggling with many issues, but the biggest may be the guilt she feels about betraying her mother. She’s about to go to trial for the brutal killing of nine very young children and Milly knows it’s all because of her. There is a constant battle of good versus evil inside her head, she’s always wondering if the good part of her will win or will the dark, violent part from her mother overcome and consume her? Land has a peculiar writing style with subtle nuances, but it works brilliantly here as it really fits as to how you would imagine a damaged girl such as Milly to think and speak. 

I can’t accurately describe how I feel about Milly. On one hand I feel extremely emphatic towards her, she was raised in a house of horrors where unspeakable things were occurring and to be honest, most times she comes across as shockingly well adjusted. She desperately wants to fit in to her new family and school, but unfortunately Phoebe makes it her mission to make her life a living hell. The cattiness is accurately frightening and I found myself thanking the stars that I’m well beyond my high school years. Then on the other hand, she will have a thought or a moment that makes me uneasy and chilled right to the bone. It’s unsettling to say the least and that’s probably the best word I could use to describe my entire experience here. 

This is an impressive debut, with a slow burn and a sense of dread bubbling under the surface. Don’t mistake the slowness for weakness though, it surely delivers on all levels. It’s dark,tortured and obsessive and I still can’t decide if I trust Milly or not. It’s still haunting me days after I finished it, but I’m not terribly surprised as it raised quite a few deeply profound questions. Are we a product of our environment? Is it more about the DNA we’re born with? A little of both? Milly grappled with these questions continuously and was almost fighting against herself to push away the bad parts of her. I could blather on about this one forever, but I’ll spare you all for now and just end with this; if you’re looking for a highly intelligent psychological thriller that won’t let you out of its clutches, this is for you.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Olivia Thomas at Michael Joseph for my review copy.

32 thoughts on “Review: Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land @byAliLand @MichaelJBooks

  1. rantandraveaboutbooks says:

    As always, awesome review! πŸ™‚ I hadn’t heard of this book before reading your review and now I want to read it. I think I could use a book like this right about now just to take a break and chill. I just have to find some time to read now. πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rashthedoctor says:

    Ooh this sounds good , kind of reminds me of Defending Jacob , that book also asked similar question regarding DNA ,genetics and heritage .However unlike this book Defending Jacob’s story focus wasn’t about these things , it’s on my TBR now

    Liked by 1 person

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