From Guest Blogger: First Person Loser
‘Ring’ by Koji Suzuki, was first published in Japan, back in 1991 and immediately became a hit in the horror realm, spawning several sequels, a television show, and the hugely popular Japanese and American film franchises.
‘Ring’ was a bit of a spur of the moment purchase for me – I hadn’t properly sat down and read a book in so long; every book I tried to read failed to capture my attention and imagination (completely my own fault due to whatever headspace I was is in!) and I was floundering. I know it’s said to never judge a book by it’s cover, but I do. I’m not going to even lie about it. When I saw the ‘Ring’s cover as I browsed through the Book Depository, I knew I needed it (the actual storyline be damned!). This particular cover was designed by, none other than the incredible Chip Kidd! You’ve definitely seen his work before (ie. the Jurassic Park logo for starters, hello?!?). He’s a Design icon, a creative God amongst us mere mortals. So, the cover had me hook, line and sinker, and it was time to get reading, and the basic plot goes a little something like this:
After four teenagers mysteriously die simultaneously in Tokyo, Kazuyuki Asakawa, a reporter and uncle to one of the deceased, decides to launch his own personal investigation. His search leads him to “Hakone Pacific Land”, a holiday resort where the youths were last seen together exactly one week before their deaths. Once there he happens upon a mysterious unmarked videotape. Watching the tape, he witnesses a strange sequence of both abstract and realistic footage, that ends with a warning revealing the viewer has a week to live. Giving a single means of avoiding death, the tape’s explanation ends suddenly having been overwritten by an advertisement. The tape has a horrible effect on Asakawa’s mental health, and he doesn’t doubt for a second that its warning is true. So, the race for survival is on – Asakawa must find a way to safe himself, and protect those around him from this insidious curse.
From start to finish, this novel is an absolute page-turner, it gets inside your head, the urgency of the story builds as you progress and it becomes an incredibly intense read. It’s not something you’ll leisurely curl up with on the couch during a lazy day, ya know? It’s quite heavy going to read, you need to be paying attention or else you’ll miss crucial (and sometimes minor!) details that make all the difference, but don’t let that put you off – it’s definitely worth the effort. The characters aren’t super fleshed out, nor will you be majorly attached to them but that doesn’t matter because it’s the actual events that are the star of this show, and boy does ‘Ring’ deliver.
Now, I know most people know the gist of the story, in some shape or form from the films, but if you’re going to read this book, try to leave your preconceptions at the door and let the story guide you to the finale. I’m not going to divulge much information on our relentless villainess, Sadako as her character and backstory is much more nuanced and powerful that her American movie counterpart, Samara Morgan.
‘Ring’ and it’s sequels are beyond gripping and incredibly engaging so if you want to read something a little different, a bit out of your comfort-zone, than Ring is your first port-of-call! The next novel in my Japanese Horror hit-list is ‘Parasite Eve’ by Hideaki Sena but it’s near impossible to find, for whatever reason. There’s something really unique about Japanese horror and it’s definitely something that needs to be experienced if you’re in any way a horror fan!