Halloween Mini-Review: Ring by Koji Suzuki

Most people find it quite difficult to be scared by a book. Appreciation of the writing style, outrage at the events or even revulsion at the depictions are relatively common reactions. To some degree, television beats books when fear is on the line. It is easier to create tension and suspense with visual and aural elements. It’s also far easier to get a cheap scare by flashing up a startling image and playing a loud noise.

There are few books, even within the horror genre, that can boast they are truly, knuckle whiteningly, bowel clenchingly, cold sweat inducingly frightening. That’s where Ring comes in. It is one of those proud few books that makes you simultaneously want to throw it away, lock it in a box, bury it in the backyard and pray you forget about soon, while at the same time forcing you inexorably to read each word, turn each page and uncover the horror within.

Readers may be familiar with the very creepy Japanese film by the same name, based on the book. You may also be aware on an American remake called The Ring, which tried to copy the Japanese film with American actors. While the Japanese version is the recommended favourite for those wishing to skip the reading and get the story, both versions are quite nail biting.

The book is something else, though. Even after having seen the movies, you will feel the tension palpably. The dread will grip you inexorably. You will be drawn in, perhaps scream out loud at the characters: “Don’t go there!”. Not only is the book a marvel of writing, but also of translation. That the ideas could be presented just so in Japanese, then be translated in to English and still have such an impact speaks volumes to the production values of the author, translator and publisher.

Without spoiling the plot too much for those readers still in the dark, Ring is about a group of Japanese students who discover a video tape. The video tape is filled with hideous images and strange sounds, and a dire warning is presented at the end of the short film. If the viewer does not give the tape to someone else to watch before the end of seven days, they will die. Surely, it has to be a joke, right? Some arts student is doing a weird art assignment, or some psychology student is doing a sick behavioural study. The only way to find out is to wait and see what happens at the end of the week. Do they dare to wait?

Ring is one of those books that you must read once in your life. You will probably not want to read it again after that, at least for a good few years. If you want to be scared this Halloween, though, then do yourself a favour and pick up Ring. I dare you!

  • Genre: Horror
  • Demographic: Adult
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Format: Paperback
  • Find At: The Book Depository
  • Published: 1991

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