Rebecca's Reviews > Battle Royale

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
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Aug 31, 09

bookshelves: books-i-own
Read in August, 2009

Very original and very disturbing, but still very enjoyable.

The story is simple: Japan is ruled by a screwed up government which every year forces a class of 15 year old junior highschool students to butcher each other. The rules of the game are simple. Students are taken to an island and randomly provided with a weapon. Weapons range from darts, to machine guns to dinner forks. Students are provided with a map of the island with coordinates. Every 6 hours sectors of the island become forbidden zones; making the play area smaller and smaller ensuing that as student numbers dwindle, so too does the area they can hide in. Finally every student wears a collar equipped with a tracking device and loaded with explosives. The collar will detonate if:
1- the wearer enters a forbidden zone
2- if no student dies within a 24 hour period. Meaning that refusal by the class to kill each other will result in all students dying.

The game ends when only one student remains alive. Grim but brilliant. Of course the book is a metaphor for the dog eat dog capitalist world most of us live in. It shows what can happen; some try to oppose the system and die trying, others become amoral and think only of their own survival, others fight only to defend themselves (our heroes fall into this category).

The game highlights that despite any inborn talents or prowess, the cards you are dealt will play a bigger role in the outcome. The class athletes including the hero, Shuya,have their talents negated by the fact they got a lousy weapon (in Shuya's case a knife). But the most important factor in deciding who lives and who dies is knowledge and skills. Shogo, the unlikely member of Shuya's trio, exemplifies this, as his companions would have died without him. Having won the game held in the previous year Shogo's knowledge of what happens to people under high pressure as well as his self taught medical, driving and survival skills stop Shuya and Noriko from meeting several early demises.

The dialogue is good but not great, but that might be a translation problem. The fact that half the class' females are in love with Shuya is also annoying. However the manner of the students' deaths are darkly entertaining and often original. The sheer number of Japanese names will leave many readers in a spin, but all in all, the main ones are will stick in the mind. The ending involves a very unexpected twist that the reader won't see coming at all. The book is fully deserving of its cult classic status.

Refreshing. Absorbing. Chilling.
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Reading Progress

08/10/2009 page 183
29.66%
08/12/2009 page 349
56.56% "Dense. Reading about 15 year olds butcher each other is surprisingly entertaining"
08/12/2009 page 349
56.56% "Dense. Reading about 15 year olds butchering each other is surprisingly entertaining"
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Miguel (new)

Miguel Mayher I had only seen short clips from the movie and the concept seemed sick (yet understandably blockbuster-like).

First of all I was clueless the book went first.

Secondly, very insightful take on it Bec.

If I stumble upon it in a bookshop I'll grab a copy!


Rebecca Good man Miguel (though I warn you don't eat while you read the book)

Miguel wrote: "I had only seen short clips from the movie and the concept seemed sick (yet understandably blockbuster-like).

First of all I was clueless the book went first.

Secondly, very insightful take on it..."





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