I picked up Battle Royale by Houshun Takami because I heard rumors that The Hunger Games basically copied its idea from Battle Royale. I also heard Battle Royale was fanfreakingtastic, so I would be sleuthing and having merriment all at the same time! Huzzah!
Battle Royale is about 42 kids, 21 male and 21 female, all the same age, all in the same junior high class, who get taken by the government and taken to an island for a government program. The program is that they have to kill each other until there’s only one kid left. The story takes place in a futuristic fascist Japan, so there’s certainly some commentary on fascism itself, and how much control a country needs over its citizens to keep them under control.
With 42+ characters, the beginning can be a bit confusing. But the characters that the author wants you to focus on really come to life as you learn their history, their feelings, their hopes, and their dreams.
There’s a certain amount of “What would I do in this situation?” that begs to be asked while you’re reading this book. Would you become someone who hunted other classmates?
I just decided to take instead of being taken. It’s not a question of good or bad, wrong or right. It’s just what I want to do.
Most of you have probably read The Hunger Games, and while there are quite a few similarities, Battle Royale is a COMPLETELY different book from The Hunger Games. You can’t even compare the two, so don’t even try. Yes, The Hunger Games probably stole some ideas from Battle Royale, but who cares? They’re both fantastic in their own way.
This book is exactly what Stephen King said it would be: “…an insanely entertaining pulp riff…”. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down. When I wasn’t reading it, I was wondering what would happen next. Yes, the translation wasn’t the best, but after the first 100 pages, I didn’t even notice it. I’ve seen a newer translation of this book, and folks have said the newer translation is better.
I loved the questions this book asked, the reasoning the government had for doing this program, the ideas why the program continued to run despite the fact that the people didn’t want the program to continue, and the groups that banded together to try and survive.
One of the things I think the author does well is remind us that this isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. The book is FUN, and the author certainly has a sense of humor. For example, each kid, before they’re released onto the island, is given a backpack with one weapon and some supplies. One kid’s backpack only has a fork as the weapon, and another kid has some darts and a dart board. Unfortunately for them, other backpacks have guns.
It’s really interesting to see people’s morality and humanity break down. A common problem that the kids have is who they can trust. Can they trust their best friend? Can they trust the kid they’ve never talked to? More than having to kill each other, this is what drives most of the kids crazy.
Yes, there’s gore and there’s violence. But don’t let that stop you from reading this “…insanely entertaining…” book. The gore and violence can be skipped over, and they don’t go on for pages and chapters. Rather, you’ll skip a couple of paragraphs and be on with the story. In regards to violence, I wanted to point out a paragraph from Jessica’s review of Battle Royale.
First, horror tends to be heavy on the morals. Any character who exhibits hubris, stupidity, lust, greed, vanity, or other vices is guaranteed to snuff it – and this is usually at least somewhat funny. Second, there is always going to be an unstoppable dark force that just keeps coming at you, even past the point of credulity. Horror is definitely not supposed to be believable! If it’s a scary story and it seems completely plausible, it probably falls under suspense or drama. Horror tends to have elements of fantasy, dark comedy, and occasionally steamy romance.
I loved this book. If the gore won’t bother you or if you can skip the gorey parts, make sure you read this book!
Rating: 95 out of 100
Book source: I bought this book myself.
And one more thing? If you click on one of the Battle Royale links and buy something from Amazon, I’ll make a commission!
You can thank the FTC for this disclosure!