Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Good Me Bad Me

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
Flatiron Books: 9/5/17
eBook review copy; 304 pages
ISBN-13: 9781250087645

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land is a very highly recommended psychological thriller. This is an impressive, compelling debut novel.

"Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family and a spot at an exclusive private school." Psychologist Mike Newmont, his wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe take Milly (whose real name is Annie) into their home, while her mother, Ruth, a nurse who murdered nine young children, is locked up and headed toward a trial.

Mike's job is to provide Milly with therapy and support as she comes to terms with her childhood and prepares for testifying at her mother's trial, but after living with her mother and being abused for fifteen years, Milly knows how to keep some things secret. She knows what her mother would say, what she is capable of, and she still hears her mother's voice in her head. Milly certainly sees and knows more than she tells Mike, as well as other people.

As Milly is trying hard to fit in at her new home, she is also struggling to fit in at her new school too, even as Phoebe, also fifteen, is determined to bully her and make her life hell. The problem is that Phoebe doesn't know Milly's true identity - and that Milly knows all about bullies and tormentors. Can Milly be good, or is she her mother's daughter?  

Good Me Bad Me really is an unputdownable novel. Land manages to capture a feeling of impending dread that had me hooked from the beginning. The tension didn't let up straight through to the end. The narrative is wonderfully paced to allow that feeling of nervous anticipation of some unnamed horrific event that will surely be forthcoming. Milly's account of events also has her  gradually disclosing more information about her past. As the tormenting increases, the potential of what living with Ruth has taught Milly, also begins to surface.

It is also a character analysis of someone who has experienced years of  horrific childhood trauma. The abuse is by the hands of someone who is supposed to love her, establishing the question is it nature or nurture. Can Milly overcome the experiences of her childhood or is she doomed to repeat what her mother has taught her? 

Adding to the total package is the excellent writing. Land presents us with a well-written, entertaining, engrossing psychological thriller that held my rapt attention from beginning to end.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Flatiron Books.


Audra said...

How disturbing/gory is this? I am so so so intrigued by the premise but a total wuss about gore!

Lori L said...

Not really gory, but there are disturbing things. It is definitely more of a psychological thriller.

Vicki said...

Sounds interesting. I may decide to read it.