Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Posted 24 August 2008 - 12:13 PM
Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of 42 junior high school students are taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are electronically collared, provided with weapons of varying potency, and sent out onto the island. If they are in the wrong part of the island at the wrong time, their collars will explode. If they band together to save themselves a collar will explode at random. If they try to escape from the island, they will be blown up. Their only chance for survival lies in killing their classmates. 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, and a potent story of politics and survival 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, and is now available for the first time to the UK mainstream.
I don't really read war novels, or any novels with a lot of deaths in, and I think this is probably the book that has the highest death count of any i've read... But it isn't just frivolous in how many people die, it is actually a very good book that takes an amazingly interesting premise and works it into one of the better novels I have read, at 616 pages I wasn't expecting to be able to read through it paticularly quickly. But the pages flew by. Theres even a fairly decent romance written into the novel.
For anyone whos seen the movie, the book is so much better. As i've said in another thread its the sort of book that you can tell will gain a huge cult following, though despite knowing of two other people who have massivley varied tastes in books who enjoyed this I don't think it's maybe for everyone. If you don't paticularly enjoy reading about insanity or having a count telling you how many people are left alive at the end of each chapter then this isn't for you. But for everyone else this could quite easily be the sort of book that you'll read, lend to a dozen friends (even those who aren't avid readers) and be able to chat about in the pub.
Posted 17 May 2010 - 04:43 PM
Battle Royale is one of my favourite book, but the greatest question of my life is: what's the point of the second movie? If anyone has understood it, I give him my heart forever.
So, I loved it too, and you're right: you can't help lending it to all your friends! When you try to sum up that book, everyone thinks you're strange, but they have to read it. Now.
Posted 17 May 2010 - 04:45 PM
Posted 17 May 2010 - 04:52 PM
My way to read it was: reading the number of survivors at the end of the chapter, then fancying what could have happened, then reading it.
Posted 17 May 2010 - 04:55 PM
Posted 17 May 2010 - 05:34 PM
Posted 17 May 2010 - 06:18 PM
Posted 18 May 2010 - 05:03 PM
Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:36 PM
Posted 21 May 2010 - 02:12 PM
If you want to, I can tell you the things I loved in this book (everyone's gonna say I'm creepy but I don't care, of course there are no spoilers since it's written at the back of the book): they get weapons at the beginning, and sometimes there are unpleasant ones, I wouldn't like to be the one with the boomerang . It's a long book and I love it (that's the best argument for me ) and hm... no, I would spoil!
Posted 21 July 2012 - 10:20 PM
Here's my review:
I, as I’m sure many of you have as well, have heard the constant comparisons of Battle Royale to the recent big hit The Hunger Games. This interested me I am very much a person who is interested in ‘originals’, as in I’m very determined to read a book before I watch the film adaption, I just like to see how the two measure up. So when I hear people say that The Hunger Games is almost exactly the same as Battle Royale my interest in both heightened.
Battle Royale is translated from Japanese and focuses on a class of 15 year old Japanese students whose class is randomly selected for ‘The Program’. Japan, in this timeline, is ruled by the Republic of Greater East Asia. A lot of emphasis is put on the tyrant rule over Japan and the mistreatment of the people throughout the book.
The book starts with the class on a bus going on a school trip, with brief introductions to most of the members of the class with various cliques and friendship groups being established as well as individual student’s talents being described. The bus is the gasses making all the students unconscious.
The students reawaken in a classroom which is described as very similar to their own. They wake up to be introduced to ‘The Program’ by the organiser Sakamochi who informs them that their class has been selected to take part in the ‘The Program’ and that they must kill each other until one is left. Two students interrupt Sakamochi’s briefing and are mercilessly killed.
The students are systematically sent out with a day pack, containing a weapon, a map, list of students, a compass and food and water. There are various rules which are in place throughout ‘The Program’, someone must be killed within twenty four hours or the collars which were places around their necks will detonate and kill them all, every six hours Sakamochi will make an announcement informing the remaining students on which students have died. During these announcements Sakamochi will also declare certain areas of the island they’re on as forbidden zones which are not allowed to be entered or the student’s collar will detonate.
That’s pretty much the plot and the majority of the story shows the various killings of the forty two students. We mainly follow our main character, Shuya Nanahara throughout ‘The Program’, engaging with his thoughts and feelings on the situation he and his classmates have found themselves in.
Shuya is a very likeable character; he has been described as very talented at sports and is somewhat of a rebel by listening to rock music and playing the electric guitar. He believes that his classmates will refuse to play the game and stick together; it becomes obvious that he is wrong. Some of the students begin to play the game and kill their classmates. This makes it all the more upsetting when he does kill someone.
A lot of the students also stick together in their various friendship groups, however many of them end up on their own, paranoia and suspicions rising as time goes on. As the book continues, it becomes clear that there are a few students who are dominant in the game, emotionless Kazuo, deceptively beautiful Mitsuko, technology genius Shinji, mysterious Shogo and of course our protagonist Shuya. These characters are followed closely throughout the novel.
There is a heavy emphasis on talent within the characters. Along with the rest of Japanese culture, there is a greater respect for the children who are talented at sport or music. There is also a lot of talk amongst the students on relationships and that just fancying a person is a massive issue and consumes a lot of the student’s thoughts, very much true to a 15 year old’s thoughts. These two aspects bring in some background for the characters and make us feel more attached to them, making the situation they’re in painful and upsetting for the reader.
The style of writing in this novel is very interesting, as it doesn’t follow one character the entire way through. A majority of the chapters do follow Shuya however some other chapters do focus on lesser known characters who may just get killed off in that chapter alone. I think that this makes the reader realise how much danger Shuya and the others are in as sometimes the killings of these other characters take place very close to Shuya’s current location. Also, even though the thoughts and feelings of the characters are told, the majority of the story telling is told as though it’s fact which brings in a sense of realism to the story.
The book helpfully comes with a map and list of students and their respective numbers. I often used this to reference which zones were forbidden when they were announced or to see where the characters said they were heading, just as the characters themselves were doing. Also at the end of each chapter, in bold, it states how many students are remaining. This makes it easier for the reader to see how many people have died and in what sort of time frame.
Overall, this book was fantastic. It has been described as a cult classic and I must agree, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but then what is? I’d say definitely give it a go and see what you think, it may be a bit tricky to get into at first due to the style of writing and minor translation issues but once you’re a few chapters or so in, it really is an addictive story. As for it's similarities with The Hunger Games I'm not too sure if it's the same as everyone keeps saying, I'll have to let you know once I've read it (which will be soon, hopefully).
Posted 24 July 2012 - 09:44 AM
Posted 24 July 2012 - 01:01 PM
Posted 24 July 2012 - 01:45 PM
Posted 24 July 2012 - 02:47 PM
I have The Hunger Games on my TBR list but I don't seem to be reading as much anymore even though I have loads of exciting new books on my TBR list.
Posted 24 July 2012 - 04:19 PM
I've been really interested in reading this since the release of The Hunger Games and all the comparisons to Battle Royale that came with. Great review above, and thanks for bumping up the topic. I now might actually remember to read this sooner rather than later.
I've read both, Battle Royale first, then Hunger Games. Not only is Battle Royale so much better, but the games are a lot more intense and interesting. When people die it really means something and has emotional weight, rather than "Oh, that means Katniss is going to win."
I think Hunger Games has so much less impact because it is in first person. We can't see all the deaths, we can't get into the mind of each character so much, something that Battle Royale did so well. Hunger Games relies purely on what Katniss sees, and to be fair she sees a pretty small amount.
I felt cheated out of some of the deaths, too. I wanted to see what happened to them, how they fought, whether it was close or not. It wasn't bloodlust or anything, it was just a need for action to spice the book up a bit more. Plus, the ending of the games was really disappointing in my opinion.
Also, in Battle Royale the game itself was handled better. The ground rules were set out well and it felt that they were really forced to fight. I never got that feeling from Hunger Games.
Just my sleepy thoughts, anyway
Posted 07 August 2012 - 05:17 PM
Posted 07 August 2012 - 05:23 PM
Some elements of the two series are similar, though I say that aside from the fact that it is children fighting to the death I don't think they are very much alike. Battle Royale is a lot more brutal, in my eyes.
Posted 30 October 2013 - 01:00 PM
Been hearing great reviews about Battle Royale. Unfortunately, I still need to squeeze it in my schedule. Hopefully, next month I can start on this.
Posted 31 October 2013 - 03:17 PM
My boyfriend and I both have a copy of this book, he's read most of it but not all of it (he liked it so far), I haven't started it yet. With two copies though I should get around to reading it at some point .
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users