Ring (リング), first published in 1991, is a Japanese mystery horror novel written by Koji Suzuki (鈴木光司 / Suzuki Kōji) and translated into English by Glynne Walley. It is the first book in the Ring Trilogy followed by Spiral (らせん / Rasen) and Loop (ループ / Rūpu). The story is the basis for several TV and film adaptations both nationally in Japan and internationally.
Rating: 😀 😀 😀 😀 (4 out of 5 grins)
Ring by Koji Suzuki
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As a kid, I watched the 1998 film adaptation numerous times. It frightened me every single time. I remember that I would be scared to even go to the washroom at night, imagining Sadako coming out of the toilet bowl to kill me. Nevertheless, Ring remains one of my favourite horror films of all time, although I must confess that I’m not as impressed by it anymore compared to when I was a small girl.
I also watched the 2002 American film adaptation, and I’m not sorry to say that I’m disappointed with it. It just doesn’t have the creep factor that the Japanese 1998 film have, you know?
It’s only recently that I learned that this iconic horror story which crept people out all over the world was based from a book series. I know, I know. I can almost see your shocked face and voice telling me, “How could you not know about that, Arria?” Oh well. I don’t know everything.
I was at an amazing book sale and by coincidence, I came across the book Ring by Suzuki, translated by Walley. The cover wasn’t really eye-catching (see cover image near the top of this post), but the title and the Japanese name of the author were enough to make me stop and examine it. I read the back blurb and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the Sadako story that terrorized my childhood nights! It was the first time I discovered that the films were based from books.
Of course, I immediately read the book upon returning home. Comparing it to the 1998 film, I was shocked that the main protagonist is male instead of female. The original character in the book is a male reporter named Kazuyuki Asakawa while in the film, it`s a female reporter named Reiko Asakawa.
Another difference that surprised me is how in the original novel, Kazuyuki Asakawa and Ryuuji Takayama are friends, but in the film Reiko Asakawa and Takayama are former wife and husband. I think I prefer the change in the film because it makes the relationship between them more intimate and easier to sympathize with. In the novel, it was a bit difficult for me to understand the closeness between the friends Asakawa and Takayama. Takayama is portrayed as a vile character who rapes women and obtains enjoyment from scary and dangerous situations. However, when he died at the end, this portrayal is questioned. We are left uncertain of the truth surrounding his real self.
Anyway, I’m not going to list all the differences between the novel and the film. This post is not about that. This is about my discovery of the novel, which I’m already going to tell you that I enjoyed immensely.
It reminds me a little bit of Haruki Murakami’s surreal fantasy style of writing. But of course Murakami and Suzuki are different. Most of Murakami’s works emphasize the human psyche affecting the events compared to Suzuki’s Ring, wherein a specific external power, namely Sadako, is the cause of the major events in the story.
Since I haven’t read the novel in original Japanese, I can’t comment about the accuracy of the English translation by Glynne Walley. All I know is that the translated novel makes sense and effectively conveys the creep factor of the story. It was a smooth read, so kudos to Mr. Walley!
I enjoyed this novel Ring. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy, Spiral and Loop. Although the novel Ring didn’t scare me as much as its 1998 film adaptation, it’s still a subtly frightening book that I highly recommend.
Have you read Ring by Koji Suzuki yet? Have you watched the film adaptations?
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