My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Clarice Starling, FBI agent-in-training, is sent to interview Hannibal Lecter, psychopathic and cannibalistic genius, to help the FBI catch a serial killer.
First thoughts: The book is just as creepy as the movie, and maybe creepier with my imagination. I had a hard time reading this after dark and an even harder time reading on public transportation - every stranger turned into Buffalo Bill or Dr. Lecter.
"We rarely get to prepare ourselves in meadows or on graveled walks; we do it on short notice in places without windows....In rooms like this, with so little time, we prepare our gestures, get them by heart so we can do them when we're frightened in the face of Doom." -p159
"His empty hands hanging palms forward at his sides, he stood at the window looking to the empty east. He did not look for dawn; east was the only way the window faced." -p280
Strong Women, Strong and Weak Men: Knowing that this book was written in the late 80s, I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of several female characters, especially Clarice. She kicks butt, and in the face of institutional misogyny no less. The men fall more on a spectrum, as there are more of them, so we get a few solid ones along with a few not so great one. Either way, our heroes had weaknesses and our villains had backgrounds that gave them motives for their actions. What more can we ask of a criminal psychology thriller?
Final thoughts: In the great book vs movie debate, there is no clear winner here. Both are great. The movie draws straight from the book and gives a sinister visual to the text. The book shows us the inner workings of several characters and stands the test of time. This was a great snuggle in blankets, drink tea, and don't leave the house book.
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