The success of the 2002 American movie The Ring, a remake of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu, has excited interest both in the original film and in the novel on which it’s based.
The plot will be familiar to the movie’s many fans: a reporter, Asakawa, connects the death of his niece to the deaths of three other high school students. During his investigation, he discovers a videotape with a terrible warning: “Those who view these images are fated to die at this exact moment one week from now.” With the aid of a friend, Asakawa traces the video to an alleged psychic and her daughter, Sadako. As in a classic ghost story, fate singles out one, often innocent character as a scapegoat. But the misogynistic society that persecutes Sadako and her mother must ultimately bear witness to its sin-or perish.
Despite a somewhat pedestrian and unintentionally comic prose style that seems derived from manga comics (“Ryuji was right. Men could not bear children”), fans of the movie won’t be disappointed. Anyone curious in how the Japanese see themselves will find this book a fascinating, and ultimately highly disturbing, experience.
Review: Creepy T wrote this about the book
Being a big fan of both “Ringu” and its American remake “The Ring,” I was intrigued to read the book that started it all. As one might suspect, much of the plot will be very similar to those who have seen one or both of the films. However, the book does hold a few of it’s own surprises.
Asakawa is a reporter who unintentionally comes across a story while taking a cab home from work. The cabdriver is explaining how a young man died on the street one day right next to his car. The day and time he notes that the event took place is the same day and time that Asakawa’s niece died. Both deaths were described as sudden heart failure. Odd coincidence? Further digging reveals that two other young adults died the same night, at approximately the same time, from the same strange unknown cause. Asakawa’s investigation leads him to a resort in the woods, where he discovers and watches the infamous mysterious videotape with the odd, surreal images. Asakawa enlists the aid of his friend Ryuji, a philosophy professor, to help him solve the riddle and save his life. Together they are in a race against time to survive an ill fate.
The two gradually peel away layers of a distant past, and a child named Sadako who was known to have psychic powers. What is Sadako’s wish? What is the ultimate purpose of her tape? Will Ryuji and Asakawa discover the truth in time to save themselves?
Some of the differences between the book and the movies are small, such as the fact that the main character in both films was female while the reporter and main character in the book is a male. In addition, the age difference between the reporter’s child in both films was slightly older than the child in the book. However, there are some major differences as well. I loved the differences in the plot surrounding Sadako and her mother, as well as the video Sadako mentally produced. The process of discovery varies immensely as well in the book, and for the better in my opinion. The book did a wonderful job of keeping the tension level high as Ryuji and Asakawa painstakingly researched every tidbit of information they could ascertain from the videotape. Every aspect every step of the way is described with great detail and in a way that is easily understood by the reader. The author never asks the reader to take any great logical leaps. Yet another big difference is the way that the deaths of Sadako’s victims are described. Clearly the directors of both versions of the film took a great deal of artistic liberty in this area, which is what was needed in order to make this book into a scarier film. Don’t get me wrong, the story is still quite intense and even scary. However, it is quite different in the form of text. Suzuki focuses on the thrills and the detective-like inquiry rather than the in-your-face horror and vividly gory description that might have detracted from the plot. Furthermore, the bond between Ryuji and Asakawa and their clashing personalities are expertly described and make for an intriguing side-plot.
Overall this is a great book that any fan of the movies, or even horror or suspense in general, should definitely read. Koji Suzuki gives the reader a slightly different and highly unique spin on the well-known films that should not be over-looked. I most definitely look forward to reading “Spiral” and “Loop” next!
About the Author
Born: May 13, 1957
Suzuki Koji, a bestselling author, is often called Japan’s answer to Stephen King. After graduating from Keio University, he worked a number of jobs, including working at a cram school, where he told scary stories to entertain his students. While taking care of his two daughters while his wife worked, he started to write.
In 1990, he won the Fantasy Novel Award with Rakuen [Paradise]. In 1991, he published the novel Ring, which was made into a successful feature film. In 1996, with Rasen (Spiral), the sequel to Ring, he won the Yoshikawa Eiji Young Writer Award. The Ring series included two more installments, Loop and Birthday. In 2002, Dreamworks SKG remade the Ring for American audiences. His most recent book, Kami kami no Promenade, (The Gods’ Promenade) was published in April 2003. Ring is the first of his novels to be translated into English.
Mr. Suzuki has also written extensively on fatherhood in Japan, criticizing traditional absent salarymen fathers. He has written a number of books on the subject (Fusei no Tanjo, Kazoku no Kizuna, and Papa-ism) and has spoken in front of the Japanese Diet on the suject. He has translated Simon Brett’s children’s book, The Little Sod Diaries, into Japanese as well as writing his own children’s book, Namida [Tears]. In addition to writing and translating, he is an avid motorcyclist and expert sailor.
A Japanese national, Mr. Suzuki resides in Tokyo. He is fluent in English.