Published by VIZ Media on February 26th 2003
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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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. Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available for the first time in the English language.
Dear all fans of the Hunger Games (both the book and the movie),
Don’t you just love the Hunger Games? Let’s look back at a great part. Remember that time when Katniss and Peeta got attacked by a tribute that had gone insane? Yeah, and then Katniss and the tribute went tumbling down the hill. But when they made it to the bottom of the hill the tribute had his hatchet lodged in his head. Then Rue saw Katnis standing over the dead body, and thought that Katniss was a brutal killer. Remember that? No? That’s probably because that didn’t happen in the Hunger Games. It happened in Battle Royale (with different characters, of course).
It pains me to say I picked up Battle Royale because of the whole BR-HG dispute. I’d already read HG, and I wanted to see how it stacked up with Battle Royale, and after reading it, I have something to say to all of you HG fans…
Sorry guys, but HG can’t hold a candle to Battle Royale. BR does so much more with the fight-to-the-death premise than Hunger Games did. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Hunger Games! But Battle Royale succeeds at such higher levels in every category. Let me explain in more detail…
Author Koushun Takami somehow manages to create 40+ vivid characters with their own hopes, beliefs, traits, physical qualities, and fears. It’s interesting to see how these things affect how the novel goes on. One person might turn into the ultimate killing machine while another may try to form a group to escape the island. From the fearful Megumi Eto to the psychopathic Mitsuko Souma, (who might be one of the saddest characters in literature) everyone is compelling in their own way. All 42 students, the program instructor, and some parents of the students, are mentioned and most have backstories. This is a change from the Hunger Games, where Suzanne Collins chooses to focus on about 10 characters, and Katniss narrates the whole story.
After reading Battle Royale, I probably looked something like this:
It took a while for me to realize what just hit me, and before it did I was in awe. But when it did hit me I looked like this:
- The translation wasn’t as great as it could have been. It doesn’t hinder the plot, but a “him” is called a “her” every once in a while and some helpful adjectives are left out.
- I’d have appreciated a little more world building before we got into the action.
- I feel like there wasn’t enough about Yukie’s group and about Mizuho Inada. These characters weren’t killed off in the beginning of the novel but weren’t talked about much there either.