Book Review: Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

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Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Milly used to be Annie. But everything changed when she walked into a police station and told the officer on duty about her mother. Annie’s mother was a serial killer. Annie got a new foster family and a new name, and her mother is in jail.

But the trial is coming up, and Milly-Annie must face her mother one more time, must be the one who sends her away for good. But with the stress of the trial and tensions in her foster family; is Annie her own person, or simply her mother’s daughter?

This is one of those ubiquitous psychological thrillers which are all the rage these days (young people, grumble grumble). But Good Me Bad Me stands out from the pack for being a truly disturbing read. Honestly, parts of this book read more like a horror novel than a psychological thriller. I’m a fan.

Milly’s past is shown to us in flashes and snippets, with a lot left implied or unsaid. Her mother is truly a boogeyman figure, who looms dark and sinister even when Milly is supposed to feel safe. And yet, Milly’s relationship with her mother is more complicated than monster and victim. Milly hates and fears her mother, yes, but these emotions are tangled up in a truly twisted love of the person who raised her, and a desire to make her mother proud (The Marsh King’s Daughter, by Karen Dionne superbly explored this fucked up family dynamic).

The book loses a bit of steam for me when it goes in for all the high school drama (yes, yes, teenagers are the real psychopaths, this is old news). Though the truly horrific bullying experienced by Milly provides a great backdrop for her struggle between some semblance of normality, or the sociopathic tendencies nurtured by her mother.

In all, this book is a standout in an overcrowded genre. Those who enjoy their books dark, disturbing, and more than a bit fucked up will want to add this one to their to-read lists.

An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk


Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk

This is the sequel to Damned, which I didn’t realize when I started reading. So, caveat: There will likely be spoilers for Damned in this review. Bonus: you can read this book as a stand alone, though I’m sure it makes a lot more sense if you’ve read the previous book (though that is always hard to tell with Palahniuk).

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This book explores the further adventures of Madison Desert Flower Rosa Parks Coyote Trickster Spencer, out in the world now as an undead spirit after a Halloween ritual backfires. Madison decides to revisit her movie-star parents’ apartment, which starts a reminiscence of a hideous summer spent with her hayseed grandparents upstate. As Madison works through her (frankly insane) past, she comes to realize that she and her family have been the central cogs in a doomsday battle between the forces of heaven and hell.

I always feel a bit at a loss when trying to describe Chuck Palahniuk. The man has the ability to turn weird tastelessness into an art-form, and I feel like folks either love him or they hate him.This book feels a bit less fun (I’m not sure that’s the right word, but oh well) than his previous books, but that may be because I didn’t read the first book in the series. Palahniuk is on form with plenty of what-the-fuck moments, twisted humor, disgusting metaphors, and lots of information about things you wish you would never need to know. The ending is a bit unsatisfactory, in that it doesn’t really exist, so I can only assume that Palahniuk is planning on making the series a trilogy.

If you have never read a Chuck Palahniuk book, this is definitely not the place to start, try his most well known: Fight Club, or one of his other popular stories, like Choke, or Invisible Monsters. If you are a Palahniuk fan, I’d certainly recommend giving this book (and the previous one) a shot.