Author: Koji Suzuki
Series: Ring #1
Length: 392 pages
Warnings: references rape, violence, profanity
Other info: Films have been produced. A Japanese one directed by Hideo Nakata, and a sequel, and Ring 0:Birthday. On the American remake side is The Ring and The Ring Two, featuring ghost Samara. Also in the book series are Loop, Spiral and The Birthday. There is manga called Volume 0-Birthday, and apparently there’s a couple of video games. All films are 15s.
Summary : A mysterious videotape warns that the viewer will die in one week unless a certain, unspecified act is performed. Exactly one week after watching the tape, four teenagers die one after another of heart failure.
Asakawa, a hardworking journalist, is intrigued by his niece's inexplicable death. His investigation leads him from a metropolitan Tokyo teeming with modern society's fears to a rural Japan--a mountain resort, a volcanic island, and a countryside clinic--haunted by the past. His attempt to solve the tape's mystery before it's too late--for everyone--assumes an increasingly deadly urgency. Ring is a chillingly told horror story, a masterfully suspenseful mystery, and post-modern trip.
Review: This book jumps straight into the action, with two teenagers dying in very mysterious ways, at the same time. in the second chapter, we meet journalist Asakawa, whose niece died in Chapter 1. in a taxi, he learns about the second mysterious death from the driver, and after doing some more digging, he finds two more teenagers died the same time from possibly the same thing (as they don't know what caused the deaths, they can't say it was the same thing.) It turns out they all stayed at a lodge one week before their deaths, and together they watched a video tape. Yes, that video tape that causes viewers to die in exactly a week after they watch the video unless...er...adverts...static...a chat show...er that's not right. Someone's taped over this at the vital part, and there's no way to recover it. So Asakawa and Ryuji plan to work out how to break the curse, brining up the vengeful spirit of Sakako Yamamura along the way. And they've only got a week to do it...
I like the way it starts quickly, but i think the scare with the boy at the junction was much more powerful than Tomoko's death, probably because it was written as seen from a bystander, not just looking over the victim's shoulder. The pacing is really fast, but is also just slow enough for you to not keep losing your place. You really have to be reading closely to follow at every turn.
The characters and their reactions are very believable. Ryuji and Asakawa were well fleshed out throughout, but the best character development came right at the very end. Yes, that's when one of them dead. And?
The writing was excellent. The tension grips you from the start, and doesn't let you go. Even then, it still doesn't let you go. The cliff-hanger is extreme-life, death and a little family morals come in to it. This (as far as I remember. I read it a long time ago) is NOT resolved in book two, Loop, so your imagination is left to work overtime.
And work overtime it does. Of all the books I've ever read, including a few Stephen Kings and classics like Frankenstein, THIS has been the only one to scare me to the point of keeping me awake, not wanting to go to bed. Sadako and her power is creepy. Fact.
Overall: Strength 5 tea to the best ghost story you will ever find.