- Series: Ring Trilogy
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Vertical (December 19, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1945054638
- ISBN-13: 978-1945054631
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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S: Es (Ring Trilogy) Hardcover – December 19, 2017
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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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I love the original Ring books. I devoured them, watching as the simple world of Ring was transformed into something much larger, and in turn, something much more terrifying and interesting. S feels not like a full continuation, but more of an elongated epilogue. The story is much smaller in scale than Spiral and Loop, and the most interesting parts of the novel are not the central story or mystery, but instead seeing as how the characters in the previous novel went about containing the Ring and S virus (the S virus plays an important role in this story), and how the events of the previous book echo in the lives of two young people who are more deeply connected to Sadako than either of them could ever realize. There are several plot threads presented through the novel, including a murder mystery, although none of them really amount to much. In the end, while the majority of the threads are resolved, they are not really done so in a satisfying way. It is more of a "snap", and the issue is settled.
The central romance that drives the novel does work, though, and Akane is probably one of Suzuki's better female characters. I really wish he had explored her more, but in the later half of the book her narrative kind of falls away. Still, both of the main characters are likeable, and the bond between them does make the book easier to get through. There are also some interesting cameos from some characters from the past novels, although Sadako, outside of being mentioned, plays almost no part in the story... well, mostly. You will have to read the novel to fully understand what I mean there. There are also a few call outs to the cult from Promenade of the Gods, a novel set within the same universe. For fans of the series, there is plenty here to enjoy. Still, as a thriller, the novel falls short.
For fans of the original novels I would recommend S as a way to get a further glimpse into the world created in the first books. For people approaching this series new, start with Ring, and work your way up to S. If you start with S you will be missing out on the parts of the book that make it enjoyable.
The Ring series have been a high point in international horror fantasy, with elements of psychological suspense, body horror and science fiction mixed with cerebral and humanist storytelling.
Having discovered the series recently, it perhaps did “S:Es” few favors that I’d recently read the first four books, along with the excellent Edge and Dark Water. There are certainly some moments of the bone-chilling terror the series has been known to provide and much of the world building is interesting if one wonders what becomes of the universe over a decade on. But, “S:Es” lacks a certain immediacy that made the previous works so compelling, largely favoring a “greatest hits” approach, repeating a few of the narrative beats perhaps a bit too much. Understandably, it’s a complex universe and first-time readers are entitled to enjoy the work too but the novel was more repetitive than I would have liked. There was definitely stuff to like as well as an inspired effort to integrate modern technology into the narrative. It was just a little more of a slog than I would have liked. Nonetheless I look forward to the next book in the series and have high hopes for the author to regain the edge which made him one of the premier horror fantasy authors of his generation.
The issues about this book are that there are huge exposition dumps. The worst of them are a big chunk retelling the first novel at one point and then the second to last chapter turns out to be a big dump of information as well. These parts come as a shock when the rest of the novel has a slow suspenseful build to it. I would love it if Koji Suzuki made a new edition of this novel where he takes these parts and flushes them out into a longer book. Despite the poor execution in some parts, I still think it deserves five stars. The story was brilliant, full of surprises and truly scary in some parts.