This is the first of the Hannibal Lecter books that I've read. Interestingly, the last (latest) is the first chronicle in Hannibal's life. When I heard about the new movie, I decided to read Hannibal Rising first and work through the Thomas Harris series in chronological order. Maybe a mistake, not sure, I'll have to let you know once I've read them all.
I was very intrigued by the opportunity to get a glimpse into the past of a very enigmatic character. After seeing the movies (SOTL, Hannibal and Red Dragon) I feared and hated Hannibal, but at the same time was interested in the evolution of his personality and tendencies. What environmental factors were superimposed on an obviously twisted genetic background to culminate in the development of an absolute monster??
I found Hannibal's experiences during the second world war (as a young boy) quite interesting with respect to the development of his psyche. Cannibalism by war criminals haunted young Hannibal.
The book is about a little boy that experiences the unthinkable. He witnesses absolute treachery and evil. His family is destroyed and he is left with tortuous recollection in the form of nightmares and terror. Terror evolves into anger, which in turn manifests as retributive justice.
If you don't care where Hannibal came from, you'll be bored. If you're overwhelmed with curiosity surrounding the formation of the "Cannibal" you'll love it. I enjoyed it. Many people who have read the other books are not crazy about this one. I haven't read the others, but really enjoyed this one.