Cover image for The good son : a novel
Title:
The good son : a novel
Author:
Jeong, You-Jeong, 1966- author.
Uniform Title:
Chong ŭi kiwŏn. English
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Books, 2018.
Physical Description:
309 pages ; 20 cm
Summary:
""A cool, crafty did-he-do-it thriller...The Good Son will rivet readers of Jo Nesbo and Patricia Highsmith." --A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window. The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed in this breathless, chilling psychological thriller by the #1 international bestselling novelist known as "Korea's Stephen King" Who can you trust if you can't trust yourself? Early one morning, twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything's all right at home - he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can't remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life? Thus begins Yu-jin's frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency"--
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780143131953
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"Ingeniously twisted." -- Entertainment Weekly , "Must List"

"The summer's must-read psychological thriller." --Lenny Letter

Finalist for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 's "Summer Reads" Book Club

The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed in this breathless, chilling psychological thriller by the #1 bestselling novelist known as " Korea's Stephen King"

Who can you trust if you can't trust yourself?

Early one morning, twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything's all right at home - he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can't remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life?

Thus begins Yu-jin's frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency.

Named a Must-Read Book of the Summer by Elle , Entertainment Weekly , Vulture , Bustle , CrimeReads , Lit Hub , The Millions , Electric Literature , and Brit + Co


Author Notes

South Korea's leading writer of psychological thrillers and crime fiction, You-Jeong Jeong is the award-winning author of four novels including Seven Years of Darkness, which was named one of the top ten crime novels of 2015 by Die Zeit (Germany). Her work has been translated into seven languages. A #1 bestseller in Korea, The Good Son is the first of her books to appear in English.

Chi-Young Kim is the award-winning translator of the Man Asian Literary Prize-winning and bestselling novel Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim, and works of fiction by Sun-Mi Hwang, J.M. Lee, and Young-Ha Kim, among others. She lives in Los Angeles.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The opening sentence The smell of blood woke me gives way to a young man discovering his mother's freshly murdered corpse. He's gone off his epilepsy medications again, and has trouble remembering, but he's determined to figure out what happened. Initially, the whodunit and howdunit seem obvious. What's left to solve is the whydunit. Slyly, the manipulations multiply as details of that horrific night are meted out, interspersed with what happened before the tragic loss 16 years earlier of the father and older brother, a mother's failed suicide attempt, a psychiatrist aunt with a shocking diagnosis of a six-year-old, the adoption of a lookalike brother and what happens after the inevitable growing body count. The novel is already an international best-seller, and award-winning translator Chi-Young Kim ensures that Jeong is introduced to Anglophone readers with chilling precision, even as the protagonist proves to be a supremely unreliable narrator: After all, being true to life isn't the only way to tell a story. Lauded as South Korea's leading psychological crime-fiction writer, Jeong performs intricate plotting here in a tale that should both enthrall and repulse stateside thriller seekers, encouraging future Western welcomes for her other murderous best-selling titles.--Terry Hong Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

"The smell of blood woke me." So says Han Yu-jin, a would-be law student with a history of seizures who lives in Incheon, at the start of South Korean author Jeong's superlative thriller, her first to be translated into English. After he regains consciousness, Yu-jin follows an increasingly ominous trail of bloody handprints and footprints to the kitchen, where he finds his mother's body. Her throat has been slit and her hands posed, clasped, on her chest. All Yu-jin can recall about the previous night is that he went out for a run around midnight in the rain to relieve his restlessness and saw a girl get off a bus. Did he kill his mother? His desperate efforts to sort out exactly what happened are intensified when his stepbrother and his aunt call to ask after his mother. Readers who enjoy grappling with the issue of a narrator's reliability will relish Yu-jin, who believes that "being true to life wasn't the only way to tell a story." Agent: Barbara Zitwer, Barbara J. Zitwer Agency. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin has struggled with seizures for most of his life, and now he lives at home with his mother, studying for law school under her watchful, oppressive gaze. Yu-jin's medication makes him drowsy, dopey, and not present, so once in a while he'll skip the drugs, and the world becomes a new place, full of color and possibilities. One morning, Yu-jin is awakened by the overpowering smell of blood and a phone call from his adopted brother Hae-jin, wondering if their mother was okay. Yu-jin stumbles downstairs and finds his mother's body, covered in blood and stab wounds. One of the side effects of his seizures is short-term memory loss. All he can remember from the night before is his mother screaming his name. Was she calling for help? Or was she screaming for her life? As Yu-jin investigates what happened, a young woman is found murdered not far from his house, and Yu-jin uncovers an unnerving and quietly sinister secret concerning his whole existence. Jeong has been called "Korea's Stephen King," and she lives up to the billing with this taut psychological thriller. Yu-jin is an intriguing protagonist, and the many twists and turns Jeong takes with this story arc set the reader up for quite a thrill ride. Verdict Incorporating chilling prose, unpredictable characters, and blood by the gallons, Jeong has crafted an ominous and haunting experience. Hand to readers of Stephen King and Shirley Jackson. [See Prepub Alert, 1/22/18.]-Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn P.L. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The smell of blood woke me. It was intense, as though my whole body were inhaling it. It reverberated and expanded within me. Strange scenes flitted through my mind--the fuzzy yellow light of a row of street lamps in the fog, swirling water below my feet, a crimson umbrella rolling along a rain-soaked road, a plastic tarpaulin shrouding a construction site snapping in the wind. Somewhere a man was singing and slurring lyrics: a song about a girl he couldn't forget, and about her walking in the rain. It didn't take me long to figure out what was going on. None of this was reality or even the remnants of a dream. It was a signal my head was sending my body. Stay lying down. Don't move. It's the price you have to pay for not taking your medication. Not taking my meds was a quenching rain in the desert of my life, even if it sometimes caused a seizure. Right now, I was experiencing the unsettling hallucinations that warned me a storm was imminent. There was no safe harbor; I could only wait for it to arrive. If past experience was any indication, when it was over, I wouldn't remember what had happened. It would be simple and intense, and afterward I would be tired and depleted. I deserved this; I knew full well what I was getting into when I chose this path. It was an addiction; I kept doing it again and again despite understanding the risks. Most addicts get high to chase after a fantasy, but for me it was a different route: I had to get off my drugs to reach a heightened reality. That was when the magic hours opened up--my headaches and tinnitus disappeared, and my senses became acute. I could smell like a dog, my brain whirred quicker than ever, and I read the world by instinct instead of with reason. I felt empowered and superior. Even then, I still had tiny dissatisfactions. I never felt superior to Mother and Auntie. These two women treated me like a seat cushion--something to be suffocated and smothered. I knew what the chain of events would be if Mother were to witness me having a seizure. As soon as I recovered, she would drag me straight to Auntie, the famous psychiatrist and director of Future Pediatric Clinic. Auntie would look into my eyes and talk to me kindly to try to get me to listen to her. Why did you stop taking your pills? Tell me honestly, so I can help you. Frankly, though, honesty is neither my strong suit nor something I aspire to. I prefer to be practical, so my answer would be: I forgot to take it one day, then the next day I forgot that I'd forgotten the day before, and while I'm at it, why don't I just say that I've forgotten about it every day until this very moment? Auntie would declare that I was falling into another dangerous pattern, and Mother would order me to take the pills at each meal under observation. They would drill into me the steep price I would pay for a few thrilling days, making it clear that as long as I continued to behave this way, I would never be free of their gaze. "Yu-jin." Suddenly Mother's voice popped into my head. I had heard it, soft but clear, right before I woke up. But now I couldn't even hear her moving about downstairs. It was so quiet. A deafening stillness. It was dark in my room; maybe it was still early, before the sun was up. She might still be asleep. Then I could have this seizure and be done with it without her having to know about it, like last night. Around midnight, I'd stood panting near the sea wall on my way back from a run to the Milky Way Observatory in Gundo Marine Park. I ran when I got restless and felt my muscles twitching with energy. I thought of it as "restless body syndrome." Sometimes I ran in the middle of the night; it wouldn't be exaggerating to call it a mad urge. The streets were deserted, as they always were at that hour. Yongi's, the street stall that sold sugar-filled pancakes, was closed. The ferry dock below was shrouded in darkness. Thick fog had swallowed the six-lane road by the sea wall. The December wind was biting and powerful, and a torrential rain was falling. Most would consider these adverse conditions, but I felt as though I was floating in the air. I felt fantastic. I could float all the way home. It would have been perfect if it hadn't been for the sweet smell of blood perfuming the wind, suggesting an impending seizure. A girl got off the last bus to Ansan and tottered toward me with her umbrella held open, pushed along by the wind. I had to get home; I didn't want to crumple to the ground and roll around, contorted like a squid thrown on the grill, in front of a complete stranger. I couldn't remember what happened after that. I must have lain down as soon as I walked into my room, without bothering to change. I probably fell asleep snoring. It had been the third seizure I'd had in my life, but this was the first time I'd sensed another one coming so quickly after the last. And this smell was a different beast altogether: my skin was stinging, my nose was tingling and my mind was foggy. The episode that was about to come felt like it could be the most intense one yet. Excerpted from The Good Son: A Novel by You-Jeong Jeong All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.