I finished the hotly-anticipated fourth book in the Hannibal Lecter series last night. (Okay...lukewarmly-anticipated.)
Rather than write a formal review, which sounds like too much work at the moment (the baby and I both have a cold), I thought I'd offer my thoughts on it in Larry King-like stream-of-consciousness style:
- Hannibal Rising isn't a thriller. I don't know what it is -- a character study, maybe? -- but it's not a thriller.
- Despite that, I found it to be reasonably entertaining.
- I still don't recommend it, though.
- Readers who are expecting another Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon are going to hurl this book across the room in anger.
- Although it's not as much of a gorefest as Hannibal, it's still pretty bloody. But in a strangely dispassionate way.
- Lecter's really kind of a stiff in this book. He's almost boring, which considering what a brilliant character he was, is very nearly a crime.
- At times Hannibal Rising reads more like a treatment for a screenplay than a novel -- which isn't surprising, given that Harris apparently wrote the screenplay at the same time he did the book.
- How can the movie be finished at the same time the book is published? I have no idea.
- Some of the writing is god-awful -- there are some real howlers in it -- but most of it's okay. Some of the parts in the first half of the book (telling of Lecter's youth as a Lithuanian noble) are quite evocative.
- The book actually does a pretty good job of explaining how Lecter came to be the man (monster?) he is.
- I would have liked to read more about how he became so fiendishly clever, a topic the book barely touches. Probably because it would be hard to explain.
- Hannibal Rising strikes me as a lazy book. It seems that Harris put only a bare minimum of effort and imagination into it. It's also rather short.
- If the movie follows the book in anything other than name, it'll be duller than Paris Hilton.
- This makes it sound like I hated Hannibal Rising, which I didn't. It was a decent book, and I enjoyed it while I was reading it. But nobody picks this up looking for a decent read. They want to be thrilled, horrified, intrigued, scared, amazed, shocked, etc. Hannibal Rising does very little of that.
- You know how in Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Chilton shows Clarice Starling a picture of a nurse whose face Lecter mauled? Chilton says, "His pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue." Well, that's Hannibal Rising. While reading it, my pulse never got above 85.
- I can think of no reason why this book was written, other than the money. Thomas Harris was once a brilliant writer, and even his junk is interesting to read, but he has squandered a truly great talent, and that's a damn shame.