Pros: Creepy (not the brain thing, I expected that), insights into Hannibal's mind
Cons: Found myself a little disappointed with the ending, surprisingly
The Bottom Line: Overall, enjoyable. Ever since I saw the movie Hannibal, I’ve wanted to read the book. I totally dig on Anthony Hopkins. Took long enough to get this thing though…
Hannibal is the next book in line after Silence of the Lambs. I’m not sure if it really is labeled as a sequel or not, because it can kind of stand alone, but I figure as long as you have the basic information about Dr. Lecter, Clarice Starling, and their previous, ah, relationship (if you will), then you’re good as gold.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter, aka Hannibal the Cannibal, escaped his confinement in Silence of the Lambs and is breathing fresh air. He’s traveled to Italy and is enjoying all the scents and sights and good things the city has to offer. He’s even taken on the spot as curator of Palazzo Capponi. No one recognizes him and life is good.
Not so for Clarice Starling. Her position in the FBI is slowly being poisoned by the inner politics of jealous members, and an incident has left her disheartened and doubtful. Dr. Lecter has not forgotten about her. A single letter to her stirs up everyone – including the one victim of Lecter’s that lived. Mason Verger, left in a horrific state, wants his revenge on Lecter and knows that Clarice will be the tastiest bait he can provide. And when an Inspector Pazzi suddenly realizes that one Dr. Fell is actually Dr. Lecter, the wheels begin turning in the scramble for Lecter’s life, and maybe even Clarice’s as well.
Reading this book actually makes me want to see the movie again. Though I can’t picture Anthony Hopkins as Thomas Harris’s Dr. Lecter, he is very enticing nonetheless. But on the subject of this book, it’s a very engaging read. True, it can get boring a few times when you certain parts, but in the end it turns out that those parts were necessary and you don’t regret reading them anymore. For example, Harris gives us an entire chapter devoted to just Inspector Pazzi’s past and a major criminal abduction that eventually was turned over and sort of ruined him. While reading this I thought, “Why do I care?” Later, while it is possible that we could have done without all that information and maybe just the basics, you do get a sense of, “Ok, that’s more understandable now.”
I like that we are allowed into Lecter’s mind in this book, mostly getting that recurring memory of his sister Mischa, which was particularly horrific. Other things in this book seemed kind of strange, such as Mason’s sister and her motives. Interesting, but still weird.
Again, Harris writes this with a few strange quirks of his own. As in Silence of the Lambs, many chapters began in a present tense style before going back into the more commonplace past tense. I was ready for that and it didn’t bother me as much, but what did throw me off was the sudden appearance of “we” and “you” in this book. Like all of a sudden Harris has decided to involve the reader more than just reading. It does work in a very odd way, so I can’t really fault him for it, but I could see the possibility that others will not accept it as easily. It is pretty abrupt when it does show up. There was one extended incident where even I started to wonder, “Ok, how long is this going to go on?”
If you haven’t seen the movie, expect to be reading some interesting and, ah, slightly messy stuff. After you read this, just know that the movie is pretty darn close to the book with a few necessary and understandable cuts (not in the gore department either, heh), so beware. There are a few times when I wish Harris would detail the action a little more as it tends to happen so quickly I have to reread parts to make sure I hadn’t missed anything or that I was entirely sure of what happened.
It takes a while for Hannibal and Clarice to meet up, so if you were hoping for a reunion around the middle of the book, you’re going to be disappointed. It isn’t until around page 400 of the 486 page book. From then it was interesting, and went as I expected (not sure what you expect, heh heh), but as for the final end, I’m not quite satisfied. I can say it was not what I was expecting, and while I find it interesting, it doesn’t quite work for me. I was hoping for something in between the movie end and what I got here (both are complete opposites). This ending was almost too fairy-tale like for me. Too easy, too happy. I couldn’t entirely believe it. Not with Starling’s character.
Oh well, you can’t please everyone. That’s fine. It was still a good read. :)
Originally published on Epinions.com.