Ring by Koji Suzuki
Just finished reading Ring by Koji Suzuki, the novel that inspired the movies. I’m sure this novel needs very little introduction or plot outline but basically this is a story of a journalist who, when investigating the death of four young teenagers who all died under mysterious circumstances, becomes much more embroiled than he ever imagined or would have believed possible.
I really enjoyed this book, but, for those of you who’ve seen the film and are expecting a horror story – this isn’t it. This story is much more based on the investigation carried out by Asakawa, the journalist who becomes involved in uncovering the mystery surrounding the video tape that causes the death, within one week, of anyone who watches the content but fails to carry out the charm. It’s more pyschological thriller than horror.
What I particularly liked about the book was the style it was told in – which was very simple and unadorned. I would say it almost read like a journalistic report and perhaps that was the intention given Asakawa’s profession? I also liked the journey that we went on with Asakawa and the friend he enlists to help him with his race against time. Gradually each part of the mystery unfolds and we are given a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. I must admit that the explanation in the book is much better than the film and even the name of the book/film is given its true meaning and was one of those ‘ahh’ moments. The book then ends with a twist which I won’t elaborate on other than to say I thought it was a small moment of genius.
In terms of the characters, I didn’t particularly find either of them likable – but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment. The main character Asakawa is not a bad character in particular although I wouldn’t say he had anything redeeming about him or any particular endearing characteristic that would make you want to call him your friend. His friend Ryuji comes across as a particularly repugnant character – although for some reason he is more readable than his ‘best’ friend and at the end you’re given some food for thought that leaves you in doubt as to his true nature. I couldn’t help wondering why the characters in the film had been changed to females??
So, whilst I wouldn’t class this as a horror book I would say that if you liked the film you should give this a go – just for the sake of completeness. I think the plot and eventual conclusion are far superior to the film(s) and whilst I wouldn’t say it was a chilling read it was certainly intriguing enough to keep things moving very quickly onwards to the final outcome which I was really keen to reach.
In terms of criticisms – I don’t really have any particular criticism, I suppose I wouldn’t have minded a bit more of a creepy tale – but I think that’s based more on my expectations given the film and once I’d got over myself and realised that the book was going to be different I was able to enjoy the read much more.
If you were to ask whether I preferred the movie (the original) or the book – mmm, a bit of a struggle. Normally my immediate answer would be ‘the book’. Always (well, nearly always). However, in this particular instance I think the producers have made an excellent job of turning this story into something really sinister and to be honest, down right scary. But, I thought the explanation in the book was much more understandable and the motivations come across much better. So – split feelings on this one. I think I enjoyed both equally.
Thanks to Jason at Genkinahito for the recommendation.