The Good Son Book Review – #YouJeongJeong

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The Good Son Book Review - You Jeong Jeong
Buy ‘The Good Son’ by You Jeong Jeong from Amazon now!

Synopsis of The Good Son:

In The Good Son, The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed in this breathless, chilling psychological thriller by the bestselling novelist known as “Korea’s Stephen King”. You Jeong Jeong is the master of creating thriller novels in Korea.

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?

(Love Korean Books? Check out the Best Korean Crime and Mystery Thrillers here!)

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.

First Sentence:

“The smell of blood woke me.
It was intense, as though my whole body were inhaling it.”

My Opinion of The Good Son:

This was a fantastic book!

It was so refreshing for such a great thriller to come out of South Korea!
I seriously loved it to pieces. I love all of You Jeong Jeong’s books!

This is her first translated work, but she has already written a lot of thrillers in Korean as well! They have all been best-sellers.

In The Good Son the start seems a bit slow where there is no change of scene, but I mean you gotta think of what is happening in the beginning.

Check out the Book Review for Min Jin Lee’s “Pachinko” here.

There’s a dead body with blood everywhere in the house.
The so-called ‘good son’ (Yu-Jin, who is also the narrator) has to recollect what he did the night before and here’s where the story begins.

“Bloody drips and footprints were smeared all over the silvery marble floor. They started by the door, crossed the room and stopped at the front of the bed.” The Good Son p.9

This story is retold by an unreliable narrator (Yu-jin himself), but at the beginning you believe what the feelings and thoughts he describes.

But as the story goes along, you find out more and more about Yu-jin’s past and his relationships with his family. In particular, his relationship with his mum and his aunt.

(Check out other thrillers by Korean authors here!)

Yu-jin’s aunt is a doctor and begins to call and hunt down towards the house to get to the bottom of the disappearance of his mother. So too does Hae-jin (Yujin’s adopted brother).

As the tension reaches the sky, the dirty secrets hidden inside Yu-jin’s mind begins to unravel one by one.

“The bus halted and blood began to course through the vessels in my ears. Someone must be getting off, otherwise it wouldn’t have stopped. I felt a chill when I saw a figure standing by the door in the bright bus.” The Good Son p.155.

(Want more book blogs to read? Check out our comprehensive best book blog list here!)

The scene with his real brother and his father is retold twice but at each retelling you really do begin to see the true nature of Yu-jin and the drug schedule that he is put on by his aunt.

This complex web of not only relationships but also the dark pits within Yu-jin’s mind is what pulls us deeper and deeper in the story.

Each stage will make you continue screaming “NO! It can’t be!” or “OMG! What just happened??” There’s nothing else to be said about it.

You Jeong Jeong’s Unreliable Narrator:

We hear nothing from Yujin (the narrator)’s mother directly (well she is dead), so are unable to hear a second perspective about Yu-jin and his true personality. We are stuck in Yu-jin’s own foggy mind filled with drugs and blanks from seizures.

So too from Yu-jin’s aunt.

Is Yu-jin’s aunt the devil that Yu-jin makes her out to be? Or is she trying to save Yu-jin from himself?

(Don’t know where to start with Korean literature? Check out our post – “A Beginner’s Guide to Korean Literature” to help get you started!)

Was Yu-jin’s mother always on his side? Or was she as evil as Yu-jin’s aunt in attempting to contain Yu-jin’s desires?

“An unexpected name was on the screen: Hye-won. Why was Auntie calling so early today? It rang half a dozen times. Then the cordless began to ring.” The Good Son p.30.

These kind of questions really make you think.

How well do we know our family? How well do we know our own memories?

(Love meta-narratives that drive you insane? Check out The Impossible Fairy tale by Han Yujoo here!)

So often there are experiments done which shows us how untrustworthy our memories really are.

Did you see the dancing chicken in the video while attempting to count how many times the people spun around 180 degrees? Did you really remember who mugged you in the middle of the night? Can you really choose the right criminal in a lineup at the police station 10 or more years later?

We have no idea about any of this – our memories truly are never real and never perfectly align with reality. And this is exactly what You Jeong Jeong exploits in her novel.

We trust and believe Yu-jin in the beginning. He is the only source we have to go with.
But as the novel moves along, there are some incredible reveals.

The ending too will absolutely shock you in how easy some people can slip down to the darkest of paths.

Who is ‘The Good Son’? Is he just a product of our drugged up society? Or is he the deepest parts of what is in our psyches?

I highly suggest you to read The Good Son and decide for yourself.
You won’t regret it!


A fantastic read!

You really gotta try it and see how well you are thrown into the deep end of the pool and told to just sit and listen! I really loved The Good Son and highly recommend it for all lovers of thrillers, horror, mystery and blood haha.

The Good Son also forces you to question the usage of drugs in our society in treating illness as well as our relationship with people we think we know.

You should get it today and get reading straight away!

My Rating: 5/5

Find all details about You Jeong Jeong’s The Good Son on Goodreads and Amazon.

A.J. McMahon
(P.S. Got any other books you want me to review? Then…)

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Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you choose to purchase after clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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  1. Now, THIS is psychology I can get into. I love anything that has to do with faulty memories. Murder is a good place and we always get an unexpected bad guy doing the deed. Indeed Asian stories are great. Try reading NanCore from Japan. Oh so good, and very short. The translation is shaky, but the story itself is good,

    • Wow, sound good! Yep! Everyone’s memory is faulty – this isn’t just ‘made-up’ for novels.
      Japan has such great murder mysteries and thrillers as well.
      Korea has a few but You Jeong Jeong is the best out in English.
      OK I’ll check it out and see. Maybe a gem in the making haha

      • I am finding that I like foreign novels best with British and Swedish books being on top. But I want to get more Asian because I love the cultures

        • Yeah, other cultures are great to delve in and discover.
          I haven’t read many Swedish books, but it would be nice to read some too! haha
          Asian books are great too! I got a huge backlist of reviews for Korean books to review, so check out my blog when those come up!
          Thanks! 🙂


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