Adventures in Reading

Ring by Koji Suzuki
March 8, 2008, 5:09 pm
Filed under: book reviews, fiction
“The earky morning light of autumn reflected off the green surface of the inner moat of the Imperial Palace.”

I saw the American film Ring while staying in Holland with my then partner and his friend, and I was absolutely terrified by it. The next week was awful! Until fairly recently I had no idea it was based off of a book, but thanks to my Japanese literature research I stumbled across Koji Suzuki. Recently I finished his short story collection Dark Waters, which I definitely enjoyed and helped to inspire me to begin writing my own story. Suzuki’s Ring, however, held an extra appeal resulting from my relationship with the film.

Ring opens upon the scene of a high school aged, Japanese girl cramming for an exam. Inexplicably she begins to feel frightened within her own home and has a growing feeling that something is right behind her… This then cuts to our main character: Asakawa – journalist and family man. Soon the reader learns that the high school girl, Asakawa’s niece by marriage, and three of her friends all met unexplainable deaths at precisely the same time. Because of Asakawa’s personal connection and his journalist instincts he quickly becomes involved in researching the case.

The Ring is a deceptively simple story that combines classical thrillers with a contemporary criticism (think Sam Ramie) of mass media and the resulting culture. The American film adaptation, at least, strays from a lot of significant points ranging from paranormal studies to genetic disorders. Also, some substantial changes were made assuredly to make the story more appealing to a viewing audience versus a reading audience. For example, the film version has a physical representation of the fear that attacks the victims (i.e. the girl crawling out of the television) while in the novel this remains purely psychological.

Like Suzuki’s Dark Water, Ring is a fascinating page turner, which managed to frighten and thrill me enough that I had to turn on all the lights while reading in the evening. There are two more books in the Ring trilogy and I cannot wait to read them.

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