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Battle Royale

April 4, 2010

Battle Royale
by: Koushun Takami
published by: Viz Media [Haikasoru imprint]
from the publisher: Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller envisions a nightmare scenario: 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 until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan–where it became a runaway best seller–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 ramblings: holy crap this book is awesome!

Overall, this volume was really well done. I think I caught maybe one or two typos, but nothing that particularly inhibited reading. (This being compared to the original edition that my roommate said was horrible and full of typos.) And the cover is a great redesign of the original edition, it definitely fits the story (check out the Haikasoru post about the design evolution here on their blog).

Calling it a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, like Viz does, is definitely an apt description. I sure enjoyed it more than Lord of the Flies, which I unfortunately had to read in high school. I definitely see why it’s a cult classic.

I really don’t want to give too much away for those who have yet to read it, but by the end of the novel I was so attached to the characters that I didn’t want it to end. Every time a character died I felt some sort of emotion, whether that be sadness for a character I really liked or almost happiness at characters I hated. Even one of the more brutal female characters has a back story that almost makes you feel sympathetic towards her. Takami has a definite skill for making you empathize with each and every one of the characters, and it really made the book for me.

I don’t really have too much else to say about the book, other than READ IT! Seriously, you will not regret it. It’s not for the faint of heart (it is about a bunch of middle schoolers killing each other after all), but if you can handle that, you will absolutely love the book.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. warriorhope permalink
    April 4, 2010 12:14 pm

    Ah it seems cool~ I really hated Lord of the Flies, but this seems more fun. Also it actually has female characters other than Lord of the Flies. I think I should be able to handle it since the Hunger Games basically havee the same concept.

  2. April 5, 2010 10:18 am

    I’m glad to hear you liked it and are recommending it because I saw it in the bookstore a few days back and I was hesitant about buying it because I was worried it was just going to be badly translated and not a good read. But now, I definitely will check this out! Thanks for the review!

  3. April 5, 2010 10:25 am

    @warriorhope: I really, really hated Lord the Flies too! It was a lot more fun than the Lord of the Flies, and my roommate has read both The Hunger Games and Battle Royale and said they’re basically the same, so if you like The Hunger Games, you’ll probably really like Battle Royale too. :D

    @lostty: I was kind of hesitant about getting it too. I knew it was like a cult classic and there was probably a reason for that, but the whole idea of a bunch of middle schoolers duking it out to see who stays alive just kind of made me squirm at first. It was definitely worth it though. And thank you for the comment! :D

  4. April 5, 2010 8:45 pm

    Battle Royale is on my shelf, waiting to be read. However, the behemoth that is Brave Story has been eating up a lot of my time (darn thing is addictive to read!). I was thinking to read Book of Heroes after Brave Story but now your review has made me changed my mind :3
    Never read Lord of the Flies in high school. Our teacher made us read Billy Budd instead (which I know this will sound weird but had some old school *hinted* BL >_>; Yeah, we students had a wtf moment each time the sub-captain guy kept lusting over Billy…).
    NEVER read Billy Budd. That book ruins lives…

    • April 5, 2010 9:05 pm

      haha, I’m just opposite; Brave Story is the chilling on my bookshelf, while I finished Battle Royale (and now Usurper of the Sun)! xD I really want to get Book of Heroes too~ It looks awesome and it makes me happy that Haikasoru has pretty hardcover books. :3

      Be glad you never read Lord of the Flies, it was terrible. :/

      ew…that book sounds unpleasant, so I’ll definitely be taking your advice of not reading it. xD

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