‘Good Me Bad Me’ – Ali Land

A tense, deeply troubling but utterly fascinating read.

Our narrator is fifteen year old Annie, the daughter of a serial killer. Details of Annie’s life are drip-fed to us, and they make for a tough read. We learn, bit by bit, of the awful abuse meted out to Annie by the very person who is meant to care for her. Alongside this we are given some details of the murders her mother carried out.

When Annie makes the decision to go to the police it sets in motion a court case, and Annie being taken into foster care. Her shiny new identity is as Milly. This is a chance for a new start, but throughout the book we are urged to consider the extent to which you can move on from your past, particularly when faced with new challenges such as the  ‘Mean Girls’-style group in her new school led by her foster sister, Phoebe.

Watching Milly’s attempts to settle into her new home always felt rather strained. We put it down to the strain of preparing to testify against your own mother, but there’s a point where Milly questions whether good me or bad me will win out – and we’re launched into a murky psychological area. Watching events unfold there was a grim inevitability to them, where I hoped the author wouldn’t go down this route but couldn’t resist seeing just where we’d be taken.

This book references Lord of the Flies throughout, and there’s a lurking menace behind most interactions.

While I can’t say I enjoyed this book – some taboos feel like they don’t need to be broken – it was one I found myself mesmerised by, and I am pretty certain this will be all over the bestseller lists in months to come.

Thanks to publishers and NetGalley for allowing me to read this prior to publication.