Spiral by Kōji Suzuki - Book Review - Kristopher Cook

Spiral by Kōji Suzuki

Building on the success of Ring, Spiral takes the curse to new mind-bending heights.

Taking places just days after the original, Pathologist Ando is tasked with finding out the hidden meaning behind the videotape, and why it has now seemingly jumped to new works of art.

Whereas in the first book, Ring was contained to a videotape, with those who observed it dying a week later unless they shared it on to someone else, it has now mutated into a full-scale virus. Hiding in the plain sight of writing, once read the virus mixes with the human DNA causing a heart-attack one week on.

It’s a simple enough premise that differentiates this book sufficiently from the first plot while keeping the same elements of tension with the lingering deadlines.

OTT

Of course, the story is over-the-top with a lot of out worldly science is thrown in, but it never becomes farcical. At this point, you know what you’re getting – a spiritual horror that focuses on haunting ghosts and deadly viruses. Simple.

If you didn’t enjoy Ring, then don’t bother with this one as it carries over in much the same vein.

At times the writing feels stunted and formulaic, but again, it’s a translated horror. These things are to be taken with a pinch of salt. What counts here is the tension and scare-factor.

A more puzzle-based approach is added to the mystery, with sub-plots also adding to the imposing deadlines, further ramping up the pressure.

The characters are a little flat and uninspiring, but as I say, it’s a translated horror, not a work of classical literature. However, this does raise a greater question.

Why is it I can give leeway to a book like this but maybe not to more serious pieces of literature? Surely they are all writing characters all the same.

And if you haven’t guessed by now, I loved this book. Not quite as much as Ring, but a great read nonetheless. Schlocky horror fun to be had with this one.

Although Spiral can be read as standalone fiction, you’d definitely benefit from reading the first to understand the basic premise – and tone.

The book wraps up with a reasonable finish, following in the footsteps of the first, leaving the door wide open for another.

Closing Thoughts

The horror on offer here is much more cerebral, which given the current Covid-19 outbreak, adds to the tension. Reading outside of this timeframe though and I might have seen things a little differently.

It’ll be interesting to see where Suzuki takes the trilogy from here; full-scale apocalypse or a more conservative threat? I can’t wait to find out.

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