ARC Review | Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

A gripping story told by a compelling voice. 3.5/5 stars.


Thank you to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book. My review is unbiased and honest.

Good Me Bad Me will be published on 12th January.

The blurb: 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…

My take:

My difficult relationship with the thriller genre continues! Yet again, another book being universally lauded fell a little flat with me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I understand why so many readers love this book and it’s already being tipped as one of the great successes of 2017. The story is gripping, told in Milly’s first-person voice which is entirely convincing and compelling. You find yourself following her eagerly, whizzing through the chapters to find out what’s next. Also, whereas in other thrillers I’ve read, I’ve been annoyed by implausible character decisions, there’s none of that here. Everything Milly, her foster parents and sister, kids and teachers at her school do is believable.

However, readers should be warned that there is some highly disturbing content here, including first-person insights into the activities of a serial killer whose victims are all small children. This is not a fun, enjoyable read.

I didn’t find the story as “twisty” as billed and I was hoping for more from the ending. Without spoilers, I was hoping that Milly would find a cleverer, more manipulative way to solve her problem with Phoebe.

And finally, I return to my on-going issue with dark psychological thrillers: I need someone to like! Come on, authors: give me a character I can root for because they’re decent and appealing. This book is another example of the genre featuring a cast of scheming bitches and absent, selfish adults.

Overall: a gripping story told by a compelling voice. A disturbing rather than enjoyable read which could have been served by a stronger conclusion.

Claire Huston / Art and Soul



22 thoughts on “ARC Review | Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

    • Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
      That was definitely the hardest part for me. I spent some chapters reading with my hand covering my mouth the things being discussed were so disturbing… and then if all the characters are pretty unlikeable, there’s not much to make me love the book!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I’m seeing lots of reviews for this one and I’ve questioned whether I’d like it and thanks to your review I’m thinking I wouldn’t. I just don’t want to read details like that about small children so I appreciate your honesty. I also need someone to connect to and that’s been one of my big problems with so many of the psychological thrillers out there

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even though no graphic details are gone into, in a way that’s even worse, because it leaves your imagination to fill in the gaps and it’s terribly disturbing. I know that’s probably what the author is going for, so if that’s what readers are after then they’ll be happy… but it makes these stories tortuous for me to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I tend to struggle with psychological thrillers but I did really like this one. I’m not sure I liked main character Milly (sometimes I felt sorry for her, others she kinda scared me) but I loved how you couldn’t be sure what she would do. If you’re going to have unlikeable characters at least make them unpredictable and slightly creepy. Some of her actions and statements chilled me to the bone and I think that’s what a good thriller needs.

    I am curious, what did you think of the writing style? I actually found the sentence structure a little off putting. Kept thinking of Yoda in Star Wars, I did. Was this just me? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • There were a few times I thought it was all a little too disjointed – I know what you mean. I could see what the author was going for, but it started to remind me of the Chaos Walking trilogy and I did have a small rant about how many times there were only a few words on each line in those books! I’m not sure why I forgot about it in this book… perhaps because it was all so disturbing and chilling.
      I can understand why it’s doing so well and I’m convinced it will be one of this year’s big successes.
      I kept thinking about I Hunt Killers while I read this. I gave that book 5 stars and it’s about a 17 year old whose father is a notorious serial killer. But I think I enjoyed that one because the son is incredibly sympathetic, as are his friends. In this book I needed just one person to be likeable!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I really need to read I Hunt Killers at some point. I’ve had it on my TBR for ages.

        I think the characters in this come across as quite unlikeable because you see them through Milly. I got the feeling she took after her mother in this respect and was quick to find the faults in everyone.

        It is very disturbing so I can understand why you didn’t enjoy it as much. I actually didn’t pick up on how disturbing some of the child abuse scenes were. These probably would be a trigger for a lot of people.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Great review! I totally agree with psychological thrillers having an overdose of unlikeable characters… It’s really hard to find one with a decent character that is actually likeable. It’s also good to know Good Girl, Bad Girl is not as good as the hype. I didn’t get an ARC copy and I will still get a copy when it’s published, but now I know not to rush. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can see why so many people have enjoyed it. But I can’t imagine anyone with young children will be able to “enjoy” reading it – it’s just so disturbing. That, plus the absence of anyone to like, put a dent in it for me. That said, it’s very well written and if the author was aiming for jet black and creepy, she managed it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you.
      And that’s exactly what it is in places. I felt rather nauseous at points. Which, if that’s what the author was going for, shows they’ve done their job! This is why I think so many readers who who are really into this sort of thing will love it, because it’s so well written.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! I totally agree about likeable characters. It looks like there’s a fad of throwing terrible adults into dark thrillers with no characters to root for. I hope this changes at some point, I need someone I care about to really get immersed in a story and have all the feels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
      Exactly! Even if there’s only one likeable character and everyone else is awful, that would work. I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed both of Louise Jensen’s books because her heroines (even if they do daft things) are decent people struggling against the odds/dark forces and you can root for them.


  5. I totally agree with you concerning unlikable characters in thrillers. It seems to be the norm lately.I am sorry that this book didn’t quite meet your expectations. I have an ARC of the book though I didn’t know about the child victims. Planning to read it next week though. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
      I always feel it’s a shame in many dark thrillers that absolutely everyone is unlikeable. I just need one character to like! Even if they’re not the main one ๐Ÿ™‚
      I think also this one may have been particularly difficult for me as a mother of a young child. Perhaps readers who either don’t have children or whose children are older (or who just aren’t as sensitive about these things!) may not find those parts of the book as troubling. I hope you enjoy it because it is very well-written and a page-turner.


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