‘Ring’ by Koji Suzuki

My Review (3 stars out of 5)

Journalist Asakawa writes for his newspaper’s weekly magazine and is keen to seek out great news stories. Hearing about a series of weird deaths, he realises they may be linked. Discovering the deaths occurred after the four teenagers spent a night in the same log cabin, he books himself in and finds a strange video tape with an ominous message.

Having seen the original Japanese movie as well as the later Hollywood version, I was keen to read the novel behind what I thought was a pretty scary story. One of the problems of reading books in translation is the necessity of relying on the skill of the translator to recreate the author’s work. Well. To say this book is disappointing, is a bit of an understatement. While I realise that lots of people think it’s a horror masterpiece, I can only say that either the translator (or translators in this case – Robert B Rohmer and Glynne Walley) must be wholly without skill, or they have simply faithfully recreated the poor quality of the original.

To be fair, the story is a good one, but the clunky phrasing, overuse of exclamation marks and adverbs and an astonishing lack of skill in writing dialogue, left me wondering what I’m missing. While there is certainly a degree of suspense, it doesn’t appear until almost the end of the book (where the story finally garnered a smidgen of interest for me). Why anyone would think Suzuki has anything even approaching the talent of Stephen King, I can’t imagine.

The only reason I continued to read until the end, was in the hope of discovering that ‘Ring’ really is a work of genius. Believe me, it isn’t.

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  2 comments for “‘Ring’ by Koji Suzuki

  1. 22/11/2021 at 11:00 PM

    Thanks for reviewing, Colin. I’ve never heard of either the films or the book, but you’ve got me interested enough to hunt down one of the films at least. Translations are a bit iffy, aren’t they? When I’m reading in the untranslated language I like to make comparisons between film and novel and mostly it’s the film that comes out second best.


    • 23/11/2021 at 6:55 AM

      Thanks Mary – yes, translations can be awkward, though I’ve read Stig Larsson and Anti Tuomainen and they were great.
      Horse for courses etc.


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