author : koushun takami
pages : [paperback] 617
memorable quote : Loving someone always requires you to not love others.
favorite characters : noriko & shuya
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.
I picked up this book because I’ve heard it compared to the Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies, two books I enjoyed a lot. While this book was very gripping and definitely had me on the edge of my seat, I don’t think that it is one of my favorites. Even so it is a great story with plenty of action, conspiracies, and a horrible government that serves as the overbearing antagonist.
If you hate violence, have a weak stomach, or can’t stand descriptions of gore, do not pick up this book. There are 42 students in the program and only one is supposed to be the survivor. Every single death is described in detail; the book’s perspective shifts to wherever the most action is taking place at that time, whether it is alliances forming or people being killed or students trying to help one another. It is horrible that a group of 15 year olds were thrown together to do this to one another but it demonstrates how powerful paranoia and fear of death can really be.
The ending was wonderful and definitely my favorite part of the book. Although parts of this were definitely shocking, gruesome, and horrifying, it also carried powerful messages about society and people themselves.
I really enjoyed this book and its wide array of characters. I really recommend it!