18 January 2012

Review: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Original title: Batoru Rowaiaru

Published: 2003

Original Publication: 1999

Pages: 622 (paperback)

Genre/s: Dystopian

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository


Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan - where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller - Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.

My Thoughts

I first heard of Battle Royale when reading reviews of The Hunger Games, when it was suggested that Ms. Collins’ inspiration must have come from this book. It took me a while, but after seeing a few more recommendations, I purchased a copy and sat it on my shelf. Where it sat for several months until last Saturday I decided I felt like reading a paperback book and it was the first one I picked up.

To be honest, at first I was a little wary – sure the storyline sounds amazing, but how could I possibly keep 42 (!) characters (with Japanese names which also confuse me) straight in my head? I have trouble with half a dozen sometimes….so it was with a little trepidation that I opened the book to the first page…….

I was immediately hooked – keeping the characters straight was made easier by a list of names in the front of the book, and when characters that had been previously mentioned reappeared, the link back through the writing was strong enough that I was fully aware of who was who, their story, their actions and their fates.

This is not a book for the faint hearted – Takami holds nothing back in his imagination, and some scenes are jaw-dropping in their intensity and detail, but the story itself stops Battle Royale from spiraling into a mindless bloodbath. There are twists and turns I never saw coming and the ending is breathtaking (and unexpected!).

Three days and more than 600 pages later I finished reading (I put off the final 20-odd pages off because I didn’t want it to end!), put down the book, turned to my boyfriend and said just one word “Wow!”.

I wish I could tell you more about this book, but it is a difficult book to review without giving away key parts of the story. If you can get a copy, you should definitely invest in this book – I’ll definitely be going back to this one again!


  1. I remember loving the book too. Thanks for reminding me about it. For anyone interested in seeing the movie, it looks like an official blu-ray is coming out in March.


  2. The movie is way violent and shocking. I mean Japanese are usually polite and mild-mannered but this one..wow! Gore fest!

  3. If you're not easily scared by violence, then you should consider reading the manga version, I hear it's quite good.

    Do you think this is similar to Lord of the Flies?

  4. Awesome review! :) I've been wanting to read this for awhile now! If you liked the book, maybe you should try the movie! I haven't seen it myself, but hopefully soon I'll get to it. :D

  5. I know this always gets compared to the Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies, but what about Tunnel in the Sky?

  6. I'll be reading this one for sure..even though you told me it has a cast of 42 characters! It might take me awhile though.

  7. I had heard it was hard to keep track of everyone in the book, but I guess not?



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