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Ring (Ring Series, Book 1) Paperback – 25 April 2004
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- Publisher : Vertical (25 April 2004)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 282 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1932234411
- ISBN-13 : 978-1932234411
- Reading age : 16 years and up
- Dimensions : 13.34 x 1.88 x 20.32 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 217,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top review from Australia
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Unfortunately, this short novel is let down by what I can only assume to be poor translation and at times significant cultural differences between Western and Japanese values.
The translation grammatically is perfect as is the editing. It lacks style and nuance. Often sentences are worded clumsily as are some metaphors, which I can only assume sound fine in Japanese.
As an example, I know "komorebi" in Japanese can be translated roughly to 'the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees' or a dappled light effect. In Japanese you can just say "komorebi" and people will understand, whereas in English translations you would have to word this fully, which makes sentences and metaphors within the book clunky.
There is also the fact that as a genre, the book could be more closely defined as a crime novel than a horror. 90% of the book—seen through the viewpoint of male journalist, Asakawa and his partner in crime, Professor Ryuji—revolves around them trying to piece together clues to stop the curse (or find the "charm" as it's called).
This is enjoyable for the most part, understanding more about the curse and the backgrounds of the characters which the movie had mostly skipped, but where the book loses traction is in the horror. It doesn't exist at all.
Some sections did have me thinking, "Oh, that's a bit creepy", mostly in describing how this cursed video makes you feel through all your senses which the movie adaptation didn't touch on too much, but that is where it ends.
If you, like me, had watched The Ring first, you will be sadly disappointed to learn that there is no mention of the famous 'TV' scene that scared people so much. This seems to have been added into the movie in order to easily show how the curse works without taking too much time.
A massive area where I can see lots of people finding the book distasteful is in its treatment of incredibly serious and harsh topics. Namely rape and murder.
Throughout the book, these two crimes are repeatedly brushed over as if it were as simple as littering. So much so that much of the book revolves around numerous cases of these crimes without as much as an explanation or sense of gravity.
This may be in some sense a cultural difference, which is also seen in the way the author treats female characters in a uniquely classic Japanese style. As is often the case in many Japanese media, the female characters are often shy, timid, and subservient. This can put off people if you don't have some understanding of the culture.
Overall, this book had a great premise that missed the mark due to, I'm assuming, poor translation and cultural differences.
Top reviews from other countries
Published in 1991, this novel was the basis for the terrifying Ring films which cast terror into the hearts of viewers; making them dread that ominous phone call and hearing those words "seven days".
Considered the "Japanese Stephen King", Koji Suzuki is, in my opinion, a VERY good writer. I think, based on this novel alone, he's quite better than Stephen King. The novel has some really good quotes (one I particularly liked was the one about how even the easiest job can mentally exhaust you if there's no imagination involved) and it even starts off with a creepy setting.
Unfortunately, the book does get quite boring at times and it seems to drag on unnecessarily, however, I managed to finish it and the overall experience of reading the novel was positive. For a horror novel, however, there isn't a whole lot of horror but there is a sense of realism, especially with Asakawa who is the main character. His desperation oozes off the pages and it's quite realistic: if you had one week to find a cure to your death then what lengths would you go to in order to get it?
Overall, I would recommend it. Maybe I'll read the other books in the Ring series, maybe not ... I don't know. I AM interested in reading his short story collection, however.
I'm always wary of slating something that's been translated, because clearly nuance can be lost in the process, but good grief, the writing's basic. If you'd told me this had been written by a young teenager, I'd have believed you. Incredibly plain, clunky descriptive writing, and risible dialogue. I'm no fan of Stephen King, but hell, the guy can write, and comparison with his ability is nothing short of a joke.
There's also a nasty whiff of misogyny running through the book, with fairly casual dismissal of rape, and pretty demeaning writing about a number of the minor female characters. I know Japan was (is?) a patriarchal society, but that doesn't make it OK.
Only giving it the extra star to give some benefit of the doubt to the translation, and because the plot is still a good wheeze. Otherwise, avoid.
But I’ve been on a horror story binge recently, and thought, why not!
This book is really good fun. It’s a nice mix of supernatural horror and detective novel, and builds suspense masterfully by the bucket load.
A couple of warnings though; this book contains quite a lot of rape. It comes up a good few times throughout and if you’re sensitive about descriptions of that sort of thing I would give this one a miss.
Second, and I think this is by virtue of being quite an old novel, there’s some gender stuff in here that could be quite offensive for a trans or intersex reader. Not the worst I’ve read but not the best either.
If you’re willing to overlook that, it’s a very enjoyable read!