4/5 stars

  • Author: Ali Land
  • Published 1.12.2017
  • by Penguin Books Ltd.

“More disturbing than hurt is love when it’s wrong.”
― Ali Land, Good Me, Bad Me

The very first sentence of the blurb reads: “Milly’s mother is a serial killer.”  WHAAAT? That’s not a phrase you read every day! I knew right then I wanted to read this debut novel by Ali Land.  This book does not disappoint! Start reading on a Saturday afternoon and you might as well cancel any plans you had for going out, ’cause you ain’t going’ nowhere! 

A psychological study, this book is more of a brain-teaser than a chilling cliff-hanger type story. And I’m okay with that. I love to climb inside a head and poke around. I’d much rather read a disturbed person’s musings than read about any horrific killing scene they may have engaged in.

The story is told solely through Milly’s eyes and consists mostly of internal thoughts over dialogue or action. Still, it reads at a fast clip, and the first-person narrative is so very effective here.  You are never sure if Milly is a reliable narrator, especially since she straight up admits she struggles with being good and bad. And like most humans, she presents her good side to the world, so is she showing the reader only her good side??Just when you think you’ve got Milly figured out, NOOOOO. You’re wrong! I love it!!!!

As far as the ick factor of a female child molester/killer, there are a few disturbing flashback moments, but I stress MOMENTS, not full on chapters. The foundation of this story is built on Milly starting her shiny new life at the age of 15, having just turned in her mother for the atrocious crimes.

I was really on track to give GOOD ME BAD ME a five star rating on Goodreads.  But somewhere about 1/2 way through, it felt a bit draggy.  Still worthy of 4.25 stars in my humble opinion! I think the problem lies in the plot structure. There isn’t a classic murder puzzle to solve and some of the situations felt implausible. For instance, I could never figure out how Milly’s mom was able to continue killing without getting caught. For heaven’s sake, the bodies are all in the basement (not a spoiler). Wasn’t anyone investigating these missing children?

I’m also wary of what I call the “coincidence factor”.  Too many coincidences in the story for my liking. Milly’s foster father is also her psychiatrist. He has a daughter the same age as Milly. The daughter just happens to be a mean girl, etc.

There is a major plot twist at the end of the book that you may see coming. Milly also frequently “talks” to her estranged mother and sometimes it is confusing to me as a reader. All minor issues, I still highly recommend the book.

Ali Land is a talented, skillful writer with a background in child mental health. She obviously knows of what she writes! She is a master creator of characters. Absolutely flawless in that department.

I think of myself as preferring character driven novels over plot driven ones. OBSESSION, by Amanda Robson, is one of my favorite new character driven novels. But, after reading GOOD ME BAD ME, I realize I do like a bit more plot and action.

Ali Land’s sentences are concise, no commas needed. (LIFE GOALZ). The pace of the writing is on point and completely effortless. A joy to read. I’m really looking forward to this young writer’s future career!
Good Me Bad Me: A Novel On sale on September 5, 2017.

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