Ok, this is another book I had to read before I saw the movie. I cannot believe I wasted money on it. I even bought it in hardcover! Sometimes I can be such a dunce.
This has to be the worst pre-quel-sequel ever! There is no reason to read this book, or see the movie! But if you are a fan, like I am, don't feel guilty, do what you want.
This is my least favorite of Harris's "Hannibal Saga." His reasoning for Lecter's particular "taste" is, get this, REVENGE. How lame! It doesn't seem like any real serial killer would start their rampage to seek revenge, although in his case, his childhood was emotionally disturbing. As of still, I was not impressed, not to mention, a subplot involving an underground network of profiteering World War II criminals (Lecter's enemies), specializing in stolen artwork...come on! Oh, by the way, they didn't include this in the film. Everything about Harris's "young" Lecter seemed too far fetched, from his "medical studies" and re-illustrations for anatomy texts, to his Japanese geisha-like aunt/love-interest who lives in Paris. Even the concept that the-then-child Hannibal had to run and hide from the Nazis did not seem fathomable.
I read somewhere that Harris had "gone gay" for Lecter after turning out the "disappointing" last installment called merely, Hannibal. Which kind of offends me, but not for their use of illustrating an author's relationship with their character as homosexual, but that that novel was not disappointing. [Juilanne Moore as Clarice is another story.] Hannibal, if I must say, is a truly better piece of fiction and more true to the Lecter that we all learned to love in The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. Why can't Dr. Lecter be the cannibalizing psychiatrist who helps out the FBI every once in a while? This book has forever ruined that image for me.