Battle Royale – Koushun Takami

Title: Battle Royale
Author: Koushun Takami
ISBN: 9781421527727
Pages: 634
Release Date: February 26, 2003
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

In this dystopian novel comparable to The Hunger Games, a group of teenagers are forced by their government to kill each other.  

Review:

I have to admit – when my book club chose Battle Royale as our January pick, I wasn’t exactly thrilled.  While I enjoyed The Hunger Games and I knew that Battle Royale was supposed to be comparable (many said that Suzanne Collins got her idea from this novel), it was long, and I had heard it was really violent.  But about a week before our book club, I buckled down and started reading it.  And I have to say, I was really surprised to say that while it wasn’t the best novel, I did definitely like it.

After reading Battle Royale, I’m a bit surprised at its constant comparison to The Hunger Games, just because they are so different.  Yes the basic premise of a bunch of people thrown into a situation where they are forced by others to kill one another is the same.  But the details are so different.  I don’t want to go into it in depth, and thus ruin either The Hunger Games or Battle Royale, but don’t feel like just because you’ve read one, you understand the other.  They are very different books.

I did have some trouble with the names in Battle Royale (for example, keeping the characters of Yukiko and Yumiko straight was hard), and the translation was really atrocious.  The language was choppy and it seemed to be a direct translation, so that there was no finesse.  Additionally, there were pronoun errors which were frustrating.  The violence wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting, but it was definitely there.  It was easy to skim these paragraphs, though, so it didn’t bother me.

This entire novel really is a psychological one.  It’s clear that the government forces people to play the game because they want to control them through fear.  The characters in the book are never quite sure who is playing the game and who isn’t.  Many don’t believe that people they’ve known for years could actually start killing, and it leads to tragic consequences.  It really immerses the reader in the story, making them wonder what they would do in the given situation.

I did wish that there had been more exploration of the world that Battle Royale is set in.  Almost the entire book takes place on the island where the game is going on, so everything we know about the dystopia is from the discussion that the characters have over the course of the novel.  I would have been very interested to learn more, but at the same time, I don’t think I would have wanted anything to add to the novel’s heft!  Still, the pages really do fly by in this book – it does not seem like it’s as long as it is.

I thought Battle Royale was a very interesting and thought provoking book.  It made a great book club selection because we were so divided on it – some of us loved it and some of us hated it!  If you’re interested in dystopian novels, this one is definitely not to be missed.

Comments

  1. It was a great book club pick! I will be finishing it. I think it has more depth and violence than does Hunger Games.

  2. It was a great book club pick! I will be finishing it. I think it has more depth and violence than does Hunger Games.

  3. You liked this one more than I did! I haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, and now I’m wondering if I’ll like it.

  4. You liked this one more than I did! I haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, and now I’m wondering if I’ll like it.

  5. I don’t know if I could read over 600 pages of badly translated work. The story itself must have been good to make you be able to get over that!

  6. I don’t know if I could read over 600 pages of badly translated work. The story itself must have been good to make you be able to get over that!

  7. Wow, I’m impressed you still gave it a 4 with the translation problems! That would drive me insane. Think I’ll miss this one and just try for The Hunger Games.

  8. Wow, I’m impressed you still gave it a 4 with the translation problems! That would drive me insane. Think I’ll miss this one and just try for The Hunger Games.

  9. The story is so compelling that the bad translation starts to fade into the background, I kid you not doubters! (and yes I evangelize for the things I love!)

  10. The story is so compelling that the bad translation starts to fade into the background, I kid you not doubters! (and yes I evangelize for the things I love!)

  11. Great review! I have seen a few people read this recently, but your review has finally persuaded me to read it – I am worried about the violence, but as you mention I could skim those bits.

  12. Great review! I have seen a few people read this recently, but your review has finally persuaded me to read it – I am worried about the violence, but as you mention I could skim those bits.

  13. Thanks for this review. I was curious/worried about all the violence so it’s good to know that it’s there but it’s not totally disturbing. Battle Royale sounds interesting and I want to read it and see how it differs and is similar to the Hunger Games.

    Both are about interesting topics and I hope the world never comes to either!

  14. Thanks for this review. I was curious/worried about all the violence so it’s good to know that it’s there but it’s not totally disturbing. Battle Royale sounds interesting and I want to read it and see how it differs and is similar to the Hunger Games.

    Both are about interesting topics and I hope the world never comes to either!

  15. Despite what Amy said, both you and Meghan mentioned the bad translation, so I think I’m going to steer clear of this one unless a better translation comes out.

  16. Despite what Amy said, both you and Meghan mentioned the bad translation, so I think I’m going to steer clear of this one unless a better translation comes out.

  17. I’m mildly curious about this book, but 634 pages seems a bit excessive to me.

  18. I’m mildly curious about this book, but 634 pages seems a bit excessive to me.

  19. wait, you SKIMMED the more violent sections. that’s like watching inception on fast-forward. while you might not like it, the violence does make it the story at points more poingnant.

  20. wait, you SKIMMED the more violent sections. that’s like watching inception on fast-forward. while you might not like it, the violence does make it the story at points more poingnant.

  21. Anonymous – I don’t think your analogy is apt. Skimming doesn’t mean I didn’t understand what was going on (which would happen if one watched Inception on fast forward), it just meant that I don’t prefer violence in books. If you want to make the argument that I can’t fully appreciate the book without soaking in the violence, then I would say you might be right.

  22. Anonymous – I don’t think your analogy is apt. Skimming doesn’t mean I didn’t understand what was going on (which would happen if one watched Inception on fast forward), it just meant that I don’t prefer violence in books. If you want to make the argument that I can’t fully appreciate the book without soaking in the violence, then I would say you might be right.

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy:  I welcome comments and read each one I receive. If your comment needs a response, I will provide it in a timely manner, as I read every comment I receive. Please keep your comments civil and polite! I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude or inappropriate. Because of spam, I have to moderate comments on old posts. Please be patient - I will approve your comment quickly.