Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris

“Are you looking for sympathy? You’ll find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.”

‘Hannibal Rising’, the pre-quel-sequel to the Hannibal Lecter series, was released in 2006. Although written by Thomas Harris, the author who held the pen for the previous three books, the story lacks authenticity in which to tie the four novels together.

The great thing about Hannibal Lecter is his mystery. It’s intriguing, it sends chills deep into our bones, and we’re never exactly sure why he commits such heinous crimes. This is why he is, in my opinion, the very best literary villain to exist. Ever. What Thomas Harris attempted to do, apart from stealing his readers’ money, was to humanise the very psychopath that we were always supposed to view as beastly and inhuman. What’s worse? He failed miserably.

LOOK AWAY. SPOILERS.

If we are supposed to believe that Hannibal, one of America’s most calculated and intelligent serial killers, became the monster he is today because he witnessed his sister being eaten alive by Nazis then I’ll devour a fava-bean-filled hat. What made Hannibal Lecter different was the absence of logical reason. He sliced, diced, and served up his victims on plates simply because he wanted to. He particularly had a taste for the rude ones. They were the most delicious. So why, Thomas Harris, do we need a feeble backstory that reads like a psychology student’s third year dissertation?

Had I not seen the jacket cover and been given the book in a word document format, I would have guessed the novel had been written by a different author. Somebody who had not been involved in the creation of Hannibal. Somebody who had not coined the essence of his evil mind. In fact, Harris could have changed the protaganist’s name and sold it as an entirely different story. In short, the entire novel lacked Harris’ unique stamp. And boy, does it show.

If you love Hannibal Lecter, avoid this book like the plague. Try the TV series instead.

Book Worm’s score: 4/10

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