Friday, November 13, 2015

The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

So, I came back to the blog enthusiastically with my Thomas Harris books, the movies and the TV show. I watched all the movies, watched all of the show and finally finished my second Harris book, The Red Dragon. I finished my "Which is Better?" post about the book and the movie, (which will be published after this post) and then... I just ignored this unfinished review of The Red Dragon.

Why? Silence of the Lambs seemed pretty easy to write and to put together, so why did I avoid writing the review of the first book in the series? After much consideration, I think I have my answer.

I think it's a combination of being so saturated with all things Hannibal Lector and not enjoying Thomas Harris' writing. It feels that after watching the show, and then the movies, the time I got to the book, the story sort of falls flat. Besides for the background and inner monologue of a few characters that I will get into, the book doesn't offer anything new. It's not like it's drastically different, or the reader gets the complete inner workings of the main character that didn't carry through in the movie.

It's just... Will Graham is not that interesting in the book. The way he captures Hannibal Lector is also not very interesting or indepth like the TV show. Of course, I didn't expect 2 seasons of Will and Hannibal capturing serial killers like they did on the show in the book, but... Graham and Lector met twice. Lector was never a consultant for the FBI. Graham just sort of figured it out and then Lector stabbed him.

On the show, Graham's descent into madness after thinking like serial killers is disturbing and thorough. In the book, Graham seeks Lector's help and essentially Lector sends The Dragon after him... his marriage falls apart, but Graham doesn't seem to change all that much during the course of the book. Harris seems to beat his fists and tells the reader that he's changing, but... I barely knew who Graham was before Harris tells us that he lost it all.

However, what the show and the movie missed out on is the sad, sad stories of Francis Dolarhyde and Freddy Louds. Freddy Louds' motivation and backstory is completely lost in both the show and the movie. In the book, he's a short, rat of a man who realizes that he is not going to get anywhere in life hoping that others open the doors of opportunities. So he leaves, goes to a tabloid paper and is treated like a king. Everyone hates him, but he doesn't care because he's on his way to getting a book deal and making even more money. Louds grabs life by the throat and is not afraid of taking risks.

However, it ends tragically for him. He is burned alive and accuses Graham of making him "his pet." Graham is left wondering if he really meant to do that, which left me with a chill.

Now Francis Dolarhyde's story is sad and disturbing as well. I loved how Harris made a point to state the time period, which would make it hard for children with cleft palates to gain self-confidence and be accepted by their families and society. It also just so happened that Dolarhyde had the shittiest family ever, and coupled with severe paranoia, turned him into a self loathing individual that identified with a dragon later in life. I'm not sure if that makes him a serial killer, but it also makes his story a bit more tragic when he meets a woman that likes him for him and he cannot escape the dragon's reach.

So overall... I'm not sure how enthusiastic I am to read the final 2 books in Harris' Hannibal Lector series. You may want to read the book first before venturing into the movie and the tv show. Otherwise you may be left underwelmed.

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