Genre: Sci-Fi Apocalypse
Author: Koji Suzuki (1998)
review in one breath
Loop is the third novel in author Koji Suzuki's Ring Trilogy and presents a wholly unexpected and mind-boggling conclusion to the horror tale's trajectory. It is set in a Post-Sadako era where a newly identified genetic virus which is decimating the world's population. We follow Kaoru Futami, a young medical student, as he follows a confusing set of clues which may hold the key to understanding and perhaps defeating the deadly viral pandemic. In consistent form, author Suzuki combines the intricacies of biological evolution with visionary science fiction to explore the origin and implications of the original Sadako's cursed video tape.
This is the third of four novels by author Koji Suzuki dedicated to the Ring horror tale. The first three novels, of which this is the last, constitute the Ring Trilogy and provide the chronological and thematic structure of the entire Sadako Saga. The fourth novel, entitled Birthday contains three short stories each dealing with a particular character and episode referenced within the broader Trilogy timeline.
The four novels in Suzuki's Ring series are:
There have been four Japanese films dedicated to the Ring theme, three of which were based directly on Suzuki's novels. The first two novels, Ring and Spiral were adapted to film in Ringu (1998) and Rasen (1998) respectively. The short story Lemon Heart from the fourth novel Birthday served as the basis for the 2000 film Ring 0: Birthday . (Nakata Hideo's sequel Ringu 2 has no relation to Suzuki's novels.)
Despite Loop being Suzuki's favorite amongst the four novels, it remains the only Ring-based novel which has never been adapted to film. One the one hand this is understandable given the complexity and mind-bending nature of this tale. On the other hand, one can just imagine what a trippy and boggling film this could become in the right directorial hands. No doubt major special effects would be required, perhaps on the scale of TRON or the Matrix in order to depict this tale's heavy exploration into virtual realities and technological manipulations. But the result would indeed be outstanding and would provide Ring fans and Sci-Fi lovers a whole new perspective to salivate over.
The differences between Loop and the prior two Ring novels is remarkable in terms of what and where the horror trajectory leads readers. Suzuki remains dedicated to an investigative progression where clue leads to clue as the picture as a whole slowly is uncovered. Also present here is Suzuki's obvious fascination with and formidable knowledge of science, particularly biochemistry and biological evolution. In Loop, however, Suzuki delves far more deeply than before and moves beyond using these as mere explanatory tools and over the edge into visionary imaginations of biological technologies and supercomputer-fueled forays into the unknown. The result is a vivid and immersive explanation of the original Sadako storyline which is sure to come as a mind-bending surprise to everyone familiar with the more well-known aspects of the Ring tales.
Having been wholly unfamiliar with the storyline of Loop prior to reading it, I found this to be a very engaging and interesting read. I guess for that reason I have decided not to divulge much regarding the plot, hoping that you'll check this out for yourself and enjoy the utter mystery of it. This falls far more into the genre of Science Fiction Thriller than it does Horror, but all of the original spook elements remain relevant to the story -- Sadako Yamamura, the ever-evolving Curse, the creepy and disturbing demise of Mai Takano, and the strange fate of Ryuji Takayama.
This will definitely keep you imaginatively engaged and turning pages as you make your way toward understanding the real nature of the Ring.