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Ring (Ring Series, Book 1) Paperback – April 25, 2004
The Amazon Book Review
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"Anyone curious in how the Japanese see themselves will find this book a fascinating, and ultimately highly disturbing, experience." - Publishers Weekly
"From its eerie opening to its chilling conclusion, this novel by the "Stephen King of Asia" will keep readers glued to its pages." - Library Journal
"But Suzuki is plowing a path that nobody else has traveled, as his 'Ring'-virus is born into an all-too vulnerable world. There are so many extremely clever riffs that never made it into either movie that readers aren't likely to notice how wide the road recently traveled is until they catch their breath and manage to look back." - Agony Columns
"Suzuki's ambitious trilogy does succeed, and it's hard not to be impressed with his aplomb in turning a straight supernatural horror mystery around into a piece of pure science fiction." - TIMES
"Suzuki is called the Stephen King of his country, but that's not really accurate; King isn't nearly as adept at creating complex characters, explaining scientific principles or writing the kind of dialogue that might actually be spoken by humans." - Las Vegas Mercury
About the Author
Koji Suzuki was born in 1957 in Hamamatsu, southwest of Tokyo. He attended Keio University where he majored in French. After graduating he held numerous odd jobs, including a stint as a cram school teacher. Also a self-described jock, he holds a first-class yachting license and crossed the U.S., from Key West to Los Angeles, on his motorcycle.The father of two daughters, Suzuki is a respected authority on childrearing and has written numerous works on the subject. He acquired his expertise when he was a struggling writer and househusband. Suzuki also has translated a children's book into Japanese, The Little Sod Diaries by the crime novelist Simon Brett.In 1990, Suzuki's first full-length work, Paradise won the Japanese Fantasy Novel Award and launched his career as a fiction writer. Ring, written with a baby on his lap, catapulted him to fame, and the multi-million selling sequels Spiral and Loop cemented his reputation as a world-class talent. Often called the "Stephen King of Japan," Suzuki has played a crucial role in establishing mainstream credentials for horror novels in his country. He is based in Tokyo but loves to travel, often in the United States. Birthday is his sixth novel to appear in English.
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Believe it or not it has taken me this long to finally read the book! now that I write it down here it is pretty darn ridiculous that it took me this long!
Either way, my first impressions after reading the book this first time, is how much different the story is when compared to both Ringu and the american Ring movie.
The essence of the story is still much the same, cursed video tape, eerie black haired girl so on and so forth. But i would say that the movie changed darn near 75% of the book.
I really enjoyed the story, and just ordered the second book spirals today, Suzuki is a good writer, and the tale is spun in a way that you get all the information you need, not to fast not to slow.
I Highly recommend that if you are reading this review you should read the book.
And then there was the utter confusion of genre. It's a sort of conglomeration of horror, thriller, literary fiction and drama, and can never seem to decide which one it wants to be. The literary aspects were, for me, the weakest and the most badly handled. The attempts at exploring morals were artificial and never fully fleshed out. Ryuji's character suddenly being absolved at the end was just ridiculous to me, and the "did he/didn't he" question was brought in too late for me to give a damn.
Then there's the story itself, which borders on the ridiculous. This mix of medical horror meets ghost story became to feel like the author was trying too hard to make it shocking. Finally, it wasn't scary at any point and that really disappointed me. The build-up of tension was poor, and the constant head-hopping and interior monologue killed any chance of any being developed. Overall, I didn't hate the book and I enjoyed it in parts, but I certainly couldn't say it was a good, or effective book on any level.
So you've seen The Ring. Or, better yet, the Japanese film Ringu. Or both. (You should watch both. See Ringu first.) Or you haven't. It doesn't matter. You must read Ring.
The story is relatively similar, but both Nakata and Verbinski took very large liberties with the original text (for example, both made Asakawa's character female-- which allowed the world to get weak-kneed at seeing Nanako Matsushima and Naomi Watts gracing screens again, but was otherwise seemingly gratuitous), including some major messing with the backstory. So if you've seen the films, the book will be familiar, but will still end up being a whole new experience.
Asakawa is a reporter. He was disgraced a couple of years ago during a sudden, unexplained outburst of popularity of stories about the occult in Japan (though you don't find out exactly how early on). One night, on the way home, he catches a cab, and he and the driver strike up a conversation about an event that happened a month previously to the cabdriver: a kid on a motorbike died of sudden heart failure. The death is eerily similar to that of Asakawa's niece on the same night. And from that coincidence, Asakawa starts to research the connection between the two deaths, which turns out to be far more than he bargained for.
What made for a creepily effective thriller on screen actually reads more like a hardboiled detective thriller (those familiar with the premise will note the obvious similarity to certain crime films of the past, notably D. O. A.). Suzuki keeps the horrors even farther offscreen than did Nakata (and the difference in the "revelation" at the end will surely startle those who are expecting the same kind of special-effects extravaganza Nakata used as a payoff), focusing on the mystery and the bond between Asakawa and his best friend, Ryuji, who gets involved in the investigation with him.
The book's flaws are minor, and conducive to mystery writing. Asakawa's edtor is a dead ringer for Tony Vincenzo (the editor in "Kolchak: The Night Stalker"), and a few of the other minor characters are about as shallow. Still, there are less obvious "kill me" characters running around, and the minor characters aren't really given enough screen time to make it an issue.
Compelling, well-written, expertly translated, and full of twists, even for those who have seen the movie. Highly recommended, and a shoo-in for this year's ten-best list. **** ½