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I saw the Hannibal film first and was instantly put off because it was pretty dire. That combined with the bad reviews I ...
on 11 October 2014
I have been working my way through the Hannibal world, films, TV show, books. I saw the Hannibal film first and was instantly put off because it was pretty dire. That combined with the bad reviews I read meant I went in a little skeptical. This book is not as bad as the film, or most of the negative reviews on this site. However make no mistake it is a big step down in quality from its predecessors. And therefore you are left somewhat dissatisfied. So where does it go wrong? Several places.
Firstly the characters. Clarice Starling was a courageous go getter in Silence of the Lambs, but in this book her personality seems watered down and she seems a little useless at times, not the Clarice Starling we grew to love. Also Hannibal is a weak character, which is not something I thought I'd ever say. In captivity he was thrilling, toying with characters, manipulating so forth etc. But as a free man he is forced to blend in most of the time and is just a regular Joe, obviously still remarkable clever and cultured, but still the edge has gone from his character. Ironically the one character you are supposed to hate, Mason Verger, is the only intriguing character there is.
There is also a really weird side story about a steroid using lesbian bodybuilder flirting with a straight man in an attempt to convince him to steal her brothers sperm so she can impregnate her girlfriend. No seriously I'm not kidding, that is a genuine plot thread, was a tad silly I must admit.
Also the ending is different to the film. I won't give the story away but it is even worse than the films ending, it is one of the worst endings I have ever read!
Despite the negatives there are some positives. Although Mason Vergers character is a little over the top and unbelievable he is still intriguing and is a source of conflict for the reader. Its made clear from the beginning he is an awful man, however the book does create sympathy for him and in the end you do find yourself wanting him to succeed in his despicable and disturbingly twisted plot.
Also the writing isn't all bad, there are sources of tension in the book which do keep you hooked at parts. Unfortunately the book is too long for its own good and you do force read through some dull parts.
To conclude if you like the series it's worth a read, just don't expect it to match the quality of the first two.