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Ill Will: A Novel by Dan Chaon

Ill Will: A Novel (original 2017; edition 2017)

by Dan Chaon (Author)

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44811935,195 (3.46)48
Title:Ill Will: A Novel
Authors:Dan Chaon (Author)
Info:Ballantine Books (2017), 481 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:to-read, Goodreads Import

Work details

Ill Will: A Novel by Dan Chaon (2017)

  1. 00
    I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both books gave me a similar unsettling feeling and both have unreliable narrators.

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That was really something. ( )
  kemilyh1988 | Apr 12, 2019 |
Very odd book about murders in the 1980s and the 2010s. The first set of murders is of Dustin's parents and his aunt and uncle. The next set of murders is when Dustin is grown and is a psychologist, and one of his patients, Aqil, gets Dustin interested in murders of college boys that are later found drowned. Dustin's family is dysfunctional, and his son Aaron is high on drugs most of the time. This is a creepy book. ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
What the whaaaat. Interesting book, really enjoyable but what was that ending all about? Also, some of the stylistic choices I thought were unnecessary, like the two or three column bits that popped up every once and awhile. I didn't quite understand why they were needed in order to tell the story. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
I always try to explain Dan Chaon's books like this: take the cosmic dread and helplessness from a Lovecraft story and have it in a contemporary thriller with no supernatural elements. Plus, Chaon is a fantastic prose stylist.

I won't rehash the plot summary, which you can find in the Goodreads book profile. It's tense, for certain, and the two plot threads slowly start winding together in a way that's both predictable and horrifying. As in, you see some things coming and you're gritting your teeth in terror, hoping that it doesn't come true.

It's kind of disappointing to see so many mixed reviews here and on Amazon (mostly from people who got advance copies) imply that there was bad editing or whatnot. Nope: Chaon (and his editor, as some interviews were point out) tried some experimental things to disorient the reader. It works--Dustin, the main character, has his psyche unravel through the novel, and Chaon's prose does well to mimic that. It felt natural. This isn't a conventional thriller, and works well when it swings for the fences.

Ill Will it pitch black in tone, and some of the subject matter is really unnerving (Chaon doesn't get super graphic in most cases, but that also lets the imagination run wild...which is almost worst). So be warned.

So, my rambled thoughts are summed up as thus: like Chaon's Await Your Reply, Ill Will is definitely one of the most compelling (and terrifying) things I've read in the past ten years. This is a fantastic book, though one that's going to fill my nightmares for a long time. ( )
  wordsampersand | Dec 6, 2018 |
Ill Will is a horror, psychological thriller by Dan Chaon that explores the unreliability of memory and the differences in perspectives by individuals. It is the story of a family that is imploding. Parents die, wives die of cancer, and sons disappear in a world of drugs. Dustin is the main protagonist. He is the son of parents who were violently murdered. Dustin testified in trial against his foster brother who is released from prison after DNA shows he is innocent of the murders. Dustin's wife dies and he is raising his two sons but he is immersed in grief and he isn't paying attention to details. He doesn't know what is happening to his sons and is blatantly crossing the line in his psychology practice. Dustin is unreliable. Often described as a bit spacey. This is a creepy story of murder, disappearing young men that may be a serial killer, and the slippery slope of mental illness. This book is dark, horror, psychological thriller with a creative style, switching POV, using columns to present various perspectives simultaneously and other creative text; better to read as a book than an audio to get the full impact. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 13, 2018 |
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"We meet our destiny in the road we take to avoid it." -- Jean de La Fontaine
For Paul
First words
Sometime in the first days of November the body of the young man who had disappeared sank to the bottom of the river.
“Most people seemed to believe that they were experts of their own life story. They had a set of memories that they strung like beads, and this necklace told a sensible tale. But she suspected that most of these stories would fall apart under strict examination — that, in fact, we were only peeping through a keyhole of our lives, and the majority of the truth, the reality of what happened to us, was hidden. Memories were no more solid than dreams.”
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345476042, Hardcover)

Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.
“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has 

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.
Among the Missing
“Unforgettable . . . hums with life and wry humor . . . The stories sneak resolutely up on you, like new weather that hits before you know it.”—The New York Times Book Review
“One of those writers who possess an uncanny and seemingly otherwordly understanding of the human condition . . . Chaon [is] a remarkable chronicler of a very American kind of sadness, much in the tradition of Richard Yates, Raymond Carver, and Denis Johnson.”—San Francisco Chronicle
You Remind Me of Me
“Remarkable . . . weaves the threads into a whole that is not only satisfying but devastating.”Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)
“Extraordinary . . . renews my faith in the unique capacity of literature to help us understand and ultimately respect ourselves and the strange, baffling, complex figures we all can be.”Houston Chronicle
Await Your Reply
“Stunning . . . Like the finest of his storytelling heroes, Mr. Chaon manages to bridge the gap between literary and pulp fiction with a clever, insinuating book equally satisfying to fans of either genre.”—The New York Times
“A riveting thriller, chock-full of plot twists . . . There’s a bristling momentum that develops, as in any great tale of suspense. . . . [Chaon] writes with an eloquence rarely seen in the world of page-turners.”Los Angeles Times Book Review

Stay Awake

“Eerily beautiful . . . [Chaon] is the modern day John Cheever.”Boston Sunday Globe
“There are not many fiction writers who can do what Dan Chaon can do. . . . [He is] a literary force.”The Philadelphia Inquirer

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 18 Oct 2016 11:09:09 -0400)

"In 1983, Dustin Tillman's family--his parents and his aunt and uncle--were murdered in a shocking massacre. His foster brother, Rusty, was convicted of the crime, in a trial that was steeped in the "Satanic Cult" paranoia of the 1980s. Thirty years later, Rusty's conviction is overturned, and suddenly Dustin, now a psychologist, must question whether his testimony that imprisoned his brother was accurate. When one of his patients, an ex-cop, gets him deeply involved in a series of unsolved murders, Dustin's happy suburban life starts to unravel, as his uncertainties about his past and present life begin to merge"--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.46)
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2 29
2.5 2
3 39
3.5 19
4 59
4.5 8
5 26


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