Early one morning, Yu-jin wakes up covered in blood and discovers his mother's 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. The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son.
The novel is cleverly plotted and constructed ... The fragmented, and at times discombobulating, structure of the novel reflects Yu-Jin’s own mental state ... While there is rather too much reliance on a journal to fill in some gaps, the novel nonetheless pulls one along—such suspension of disbelief as is necessary comes easily—as one is pulled deeper into Yu-Jin’s mind than is entirely comfortable ... Translated novels rarely make into the English-language commercial mainstream. If a Korean novel finally does, it might just be this one.
The Good Son (who is anything but) is not so much a mystery story, then, as the case study of a psychopath, an unlikely thriller that we continue to read—thanks to Ms. Jeong’s controlled prose, as rendered into English by Chi-Young Kim —with a sickened sort of fascination. It’s a testament to the author’s skill and seriousness of purpose that she maintains suspense about her inhuman-seeming protagonist’s fate until the bitter end.
...a bit heavy-handed, but this starts to make sense as you begin to piece together Yu-Jin’s mental state. It is this slow piecing together of the mind of a psychopath where The Good Son excels ... There are moments when it seems as if a character is stating the obvious, but these may be due to the nature of Korean to English translation. Even so, the translation really allows the story to pull you in, and the twists and turns keep you going.