It has been a long time since I’ve been affected by a book the way that I have with Good Me Bad Me. I finished it last night on the way home from work but I’ve had to mull it over and have a good think about it before I could commit my thoughts to the screen. I really can’t believe that this is Ali Land’s debut novel, it packs an explosive punch and really gets under your skin.
Annie’s mother is a nurse at a women’s refuge. The caring profession. She is also a serial killer and abuser of children. Nine small boys have died at her hands in a room known as the playground. The only way out that Annie can see is to turn her over to the police. So she does.
Now known as Milly Barnes she is a fifteen year old starting a new life in Notting Hill with foster parents Mike and Saskia and their daughter, Phoebe. Mike is a psychologist helping Milly with the preparations for giving evidence for the prosecution at her mother’s trial. Phoebe is less than welcoming and soon Milly finds herself in the middle of a full blown hate campaign fuelled by a jealous teen who doesn’t want to share her father.
I can’t begin to explain just how creepy this book is. Told from Milly’s point of view most of the book is set in the present day with some flashbacks to the life that she led with her mother. In many ways it has a quality of the Criminal Minds television show in that it presents pure evil at a relatively safe distance. Repetition is a key part of the way that it reinforces stressful situations.
“Up twenty eight. Up another floor. The banister on the right.”
Its a fairly innocuous phrase in itself but in context and as it is repeated it becomes a genuinely chilling mantra. About two thirds of the way through I had a good idea of what was going to happen in the end but I didn’t even come close to the full horror.
Good Me Bad Me is going to be the book that will have people talking all year and I will be very surprised if it doesn’t get a movie adaptation really soon. The book clubs are going to love all of the nature/nurture discussions they can have around this story!
Supplied by Net Galley and Michael Joseph in exchange for an honest review.
UK Publication Date: Jan 12 2017. 352 pages