28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those of you who are still undecided on this one...
After having read the Hunger Games trilogy I'd heard on the grapevine about where it all originated from and thought that Battle Royale sounded like a good read. But I have to admit I was somewhat torn between whether I should risk reading it (particularly as it's not exactly cheap) for a number of reasons. So I'm gearing this review towards those of you who, like me,...
Published 22 months ago by N. J. H.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the few times when the film is better than the book
I'm pretty sure you know about 'Battle Royale' - most of us probably having seen the film first, so what does the original book bring to the table if we already know the story?
The simple answer is not that much more. The book itself is quite long and pretty formulaic. In fact, I'm not sure a novel is the best format for the story, and I think it would work...
Published on 28 Sep 2010 by The Truth
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those of you who are still undecided on this one...,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)After having read the Hunger Games trilogy I'd heard on the grapevine about where it all originated from and thought that Battle Royale sounded like a good read. But I have to admit I was somewhat torn between whether I should risk reading it (particularly as it's not exactly cheap) for a number of reasons. So I'm gearing this review towards those of you who, like me, aren't too sure whether you'll enjoy this book.
The first doubt I had, before choosing to buy, was towards the telling of the story. Would I be able to follow it since it's originally japanese and I'd read a few bad reviews about the translation? Would it be too different from the novels we're all used to? Absolutely not! This book is really fantastic, and I wouldn't have been able to tell you it wasn't English originally if it weren't for the names of the characters. And even then I probably could have looked past that fact and assumed it was.
So what about the characters? I won't delve into who I liked for fear of giving away the end results but the character development and connection was something I was concerned about. With 42 students to remember I feared I wouldn't make a connection with many or I'd lose track of who was who and all their different back stories. Well to some extent this is true. For me, the names were initially difficult to remember and place a face to but this became so much easier after 10 or so pages once I'd gotten used to it. I honestly thought this wouldn't be the case and I'd struggle signigicantly but it was fine. I did however, struggle with remembering all 42 students but given the nature of the book and the consistent lose of students it became clear that I really only needed to know about 10 of them and actually I probably could have told you about 20 from memory now so don't worry over that either.
Something else I was concerned about was that I'd already know what was going to happen in the end. Obviously there could be a winner right? Well I based all of these assumptions on the Hunger Games and I really shouldn't have. The story is very different and there are a number of rules within Battle Royale which weren't evident in the Hunger Games and I felt some of these were really clever. One concept for instance are the metal collars the students are forced to wear. Unremovable collars which essentially blow up if the student remains in a "forbidden zone" on the map - these forbidden zones increase in number over the course of the battle. The most striking rule to me though was that there doesn't have to be a winner. If a student isn't killed every 24 hours then everyone dies.
So overall, I've awarded this five stars because I honestly enjoyed every second of it. Although it's graphic in places and some of the descriptive passages could be considered a bit disturbing (so if you're buying as a gift keep this in mind for younger readers) I thought it was very cleverly written, a brilliant concept and I can now completely understand why Collins, the author of the Hunger Games, borrowed a few ideas and added her own twist. I'd recommend this to anyone and if you're in doubt then I hope this has helped to reassure you that Battle Royale is worth your time.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No mercy,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)Imagine this: Japan is run by a totalitarian government, which occasionally selects groups of ninth graders to methodically destroy each other. On TV.
There now, isn't that chilling? It's the creepy, all-too-real premise of Koushun Takami's "Battle Royale," an intricate novel about a parallel universe, where Japan is part of a brutal, coldhearted empire. Takami's writing style is a bit too spare at times, but he's still able to inspire a sense of haunting terror in his readers.
A group of third-year high-schoolers are being transported on a bus, when they are gassed to unconsciousness, and taken to a distant island. When they awake, they have silver collars around their necks, and a man explains that they have been chosen for the Program: a military training exercise where you must kill or be killed. If you don't play, or stay in one place too long, the collars explode.
The teenagers slowly weed one another out, armed with weapons and random household tools, and monitored by the authorities to make sure they don't plot. Finally the entire class is weeded down to three young adults, including Shuya Nanahara and his girlfriend Noriko. But if they refuse to kill, then they must escape the fascist nightmare... which no one has done before.
"Battle Royale" was condemned in Japan for being so violent, and having a bunch of normal high schoolers killing each other off. So of course, it became a massive bestseller. But "Battle Royale" would have been striking even if it hadn't been publicized like that -- not only is it well-written, but it asks the question straight-out: how much will people do to survive?
Maybe it's also a parable about high-school life, and the struggle to succeed at all costs in Japan. However, Koushun Takami avoids any outright preaching or pondering. Instead he uncoils the tense plot, all about the kids fighting (they're told to "show no mercy") as they try to find a way out of their dilemma alive. Will any of them make it? There's a little glimmer of hope, since Shuya is trying to think his way out.
The pacing is pretty slow and intricate -- considering the large cast, it's not surprising. But the careful plot is punctuated with bursts of nasty action. And Takami writes in a spare, taut style, full of little details to add atmosphere and keep it from being TOO stark ("Under the moonlight, the bluish-white concrete pier gleamed like bone").
Shuya and Noriko are the main characters, and most of the novel's action is through their eyes. These are nice, normal, everyday kids like the ones who live down the street, but suddenly they're faced with their friends and classmates... wanting to kill them. Takami does a great job exploring their emotions as they struggle to keep their sanity and lives.
Violent, creepy and wonderfully atmospheric, "Battle Royale" is a brilliant cult novel that takes an exaggerated look at what it takes to stay ahead. Excellent piece of work.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the few times when the film is better than the book,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)I'm pretty sure you know about 'Battle Royale' - most of us probably having seen the film first, so what does the original book bring to the table if we already know the story?
The simple answer is not that much more. The book itself is quite long and pretty formulaic. In fact, I'm not sure a novel is the best format for the story, and I think it would work better in a comic format - or as we've seen - on the big screen. In fact, I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that perhaps, this is one of the few occasions when the film is better than the book.
That said the book is OK, and the translation from Japanese to English is well done. The author cites Stephen King as one of his main influences and there are clear similarities between their styles of story telling; although Takami is nowhere near King's level of ability (but that's nothing to be ashamed of, as King is considered one of the best story tellers of our time).
One problem I found, or at least that I thought it would be a problem, was the shear numbers (42) of unfamilar Japanese names. In the end though, we only really need to try and learn/remember about 10 of them, as most of them are just cannon fodder to be dispatched in each chapter - this is what I mean when the book becomes a bit formulaic. It's not really a problem, but means there's little suspense and you can guess the twist before they happen. It's one reason I think this would be better in a comic format. However, do expect to get a bit confused when 3 friends are called Yuki, Yuko, Yoki for instance. As I said though, when you know all three will die within the next 10 pages, does it really matter if it's Yuki or Yoki who is shot in the head with a crossbow?
It does go into greater detail than the film with regards to the 'players' and their back stories, but again you don't really get anything more from this and also I found the life stories a little clichéd. For instance the sexually abused girl who becomes a cold hearted killer. I also found that what is obviously ' too cool for school' in Japan, in not so cool in the west and a little cringe-worthy, but this wasn't a huge problem and didn't really spoil my enjoyment, but it did leave you very aware you were ready a Japanese book. Again, this isn't really a problem though.
In the the end this was Takashi's 1st novel and it shows - but it's still a pretty good effort and has gone on to become a cult classic and I'm sure make him a lot of money, so he obviously did something right. That is come up with a good idea for a story. However, as I said before, perhaps that story's better told in other ways.
There are a few extras towards the back of this edition too - such as an interview with the writer himself who, in his own words, is sick of answering questions about this book (and interestingly has yet to write another book) and an interview with the director of the film adaptation.
I read Battle Royale just to say I've read it, really, as it is such a cult story now. I don't regret it - but I doubt I'll ever read it again. I'll just stick on the film.
Overall 7 out of 10.
If you found this review helpful at all please give it the thumbs up, if not, comment on why so I can do a better job for you next time. Thanks :-)
5.0 out of 5 stars Finished this massive book in one night,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)This review is very late but I literally read this book in one night. It is quite a huge book and I still read it without break. The book arrived in perfect condition and was great.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Perfect Buy!,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)I haven't read this book yet. So far, I'm only about three pages in after the introduction, map and list of character names--which, I'll warn you now, will be hard for you to keep track of, especially if you're not familiar with Japanese entertainment or culture. Also, I have only seen the film of this, which wasn't bad. This came in perfect condition and a day earlier too, and I look forward to reading more! I definitely recommend buying this from here because it was about £7 in WHSmith--what a joke!
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)Once I discovered that the 'Hollywood Version' was based on this, I decided to read this first. I read a lot of reviews which warned of the graphic violence and must admit to some trepidation before starting the book. However, although the violent bits are quite graphic, it doesn't detract from a very good story.
Takami homes in on the unpredictability of human nature and what people will do to survive, be it in a kill-or-be-killed situation or living under an oppressive regime. The plot is pretty basic but the insight into the characters more than makes up for it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)A great story. It's fast paced and gripping. School kids fight each other on a deserted island? Shocking idea so I had to find out what was going on. Every one of them react in a different way to this challange. The ultimate prize (survival) keeps the reader on their toes. Weel, it kept ME on my toes. It's a shame there is no follow up to the story but I liked it anyway. If you are a kid, you like kids or you KNOW how evil some kids can be, this one is for you.
3.0 out of 5 stars Battle Royale: The Novel,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)This was another present for my other half, as she is a big fan of the original film, however, after getting about half way through,
she said she couldn't figure whether it was badly translated, badly written or just bad in general!.
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)One of the best novels I have read. It had me gripped from the beginning until the end. The true strength of this book is that it makes you care for even the supporting characters. Even if they are only around for a couple of pages, you find yourself wanting to see them survive.
Couple this with a great villain and an excellent twist at the end, Battle Royale is a must read book.
4.0 out of 5 stars Battle Royale,
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)The story line is very original, it is very well written, the deescription of the characters makes you want to empathise and sympathise with certain characters, it keeps you on tenderhooks. It came well packaged and on time.
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Battle Royale: The Novel by Koushun Takami (Paperback - 7 Jan 2010)