Hannibal Rising Review
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With the prequel to the prequel of The Silence of the Lambs about to be released in theaters, Thomas Harris released the book on which it’s based just months before the film’s release date—causing some to debate which came first: the screenplay or the novel. Some have even questioned whether Harris actually wrote the book. But whatever the case may be, fans of Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter have been in an uproar.

The book goes back to Lecter’s childhood—to explain the root of the infamous criminal’s bizarre urges. It begins at the time of World War II, in Lithuania. With an army of troops on their way, young Hannibal and his family flee Lecter Castle and head for safety of the family’s hunting lodge. After their parents are killed, Hannibal and his little sister, Mischa, are taken prisoner by a band of looters led by a man named Grutas. After the looters arrive, horrible things happen—things that Hannibal can’t seem to remember after he escapes without his sister, except in his dreams.

After Hannibal’s escape, he’s brought to France, to live with his uncle and his uncle’s wife, the beautiful Lady Murasaki. But a new side of Hannibal begins to come out as he seeks to protect those he loves. And as Hannibal heads to school in Paris, Inspector Popil follows, concerned about the horrible things that he suspects Hannibal is capable of doing.

Before I go any further, a disclaimer: though I’ve seen the movies based on Harris’s novels (well, two of them—I decided to take a break after Hannibal), I’ve never actually read one of his novels—but the controversy compelled me to check out the latest. So while I can’t compare Hannibal Rising to, say, The Silence of the Lambs, I can say, however, that it’s not quite the suave and intense psychological thriller that one might expect a Hannibal Lecter book to be. But while it’s about the same character as the others, it’s about a much younger character—and thus it’s allowed to be a bit different. It’s still a quick read, though—despite its rather slow build—and there’s plenty of suspense to keep you turning pages. The story is actually interesting, too. And while it may not necessarily explain exactly why Hannibal eventually becomes a blood-thirsty criminal mastermind, it will most definitely succeed in giving you the creeps—though (to my great relief) I didn’t find it nearly as gruesome as the film adaptation of Hannibal.

Brilliant literature it’s not, but I found Hannibal Rising to be a quick, entertaining read nonetheless. And, get this: after reading the book, I’ve decided to forego my previous ban on Hannibal Lecter movies and give this one a chance. So it can’t be all that bad.

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