What makes a narrator credible? How is that relationship built between reader and storyteller?
Told through flashbacks, memory slips, fantasies, hallucinations, and journal entries, You-Jeong Jeong’s The Good Son is a Korean thriller with a most unreliable narrator. College student Yu-Jin has woken up covered in blood and his morning gets more puzzling, dark, and creepy when he finds his mother with her throat cut at the bottom of the stairs.
Living his life in a muddled cloud because of medication for epilepsy, he decided to stop taking his pills four days ago. With stopping cold turkey comes memory loss and other costly side effects, and he can’t recall his actions of the past twenty-four hours. Yu-Jin starts to try to recreate the previous night using evidence in the apartment, and his mother’s journal. Some of the blanks start to fill up, and more is revealed about his and his family’s mangled past. As Yu-Jin slowly discovers that he may be the culprit, he begins to see he has three options: confess, run, or cover it up…
Jeong’s novel is most distinguished by the unique narrator. Yu-Jin is untrustworthy, manipulating, and dismissive of most things the reader wants him to concentrate on. This creates a good frustration, the type that propels a plot and makes us turn pages. And while I won’t give anything up, about halfway through, the other shoe drops. A huge shoe! I also warn you: There is blood. Lots of it. Graphic pails of blood.
The Good Son is a thriller that takes the reader down a dark hole, deep in the human psyche. I did find some of the the analysis of every detail of the past 24-hours a bit repetitive, and parts of the plot were predictable. But I would still recommend this one for the original and intense storytelling that you will make you squirm, yet still keep you reading and reading.
4 out of 5 stars
Releases on June 5th, 2018.
Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Books, and You-Jeong Jeong for the advance copy for review.