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

Synopsis

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!

8 comments:

  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.

    http://amzn.com/B006L4MX0Y

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

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  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?

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  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

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

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  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.

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

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