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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 February 2012
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.
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on 25 April 2003
Those who have seen the movie, "Battle Royale," will be familiar with the story - 42 high school students, sent to a deserted island, must fight to the death until only one survivor remains. Being a huge fan of the film, I was eager to get my hands on the Koushun Takami novel, on which the movie was based. Never before have i read 600 pages in two days. I found the book extremely hard to put down and despite parallels with the film, it features enough differences to keep fans of the movie interested. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the novel is its portrayal of the thoughts of each student. This allows every single charater to be given a personality, making their inevitable deaths that much more horrifying. Learning more about the character backgrounds allows for greater knowledge that i feel makes the film more enjoyable too. While i have nothing but praise for the story, the translation is not always spot on and is, at times, a little confusing. Fortunately for those who have seen the film, each character (wth the exception of sakamochi, or kitano) has the same name in the book as the movie. Being able to put a face to the name aids greatly in understanding the book, despite taking something away from the imagination. I really enjoyed the book, but if i did not have some knowledge of the characters already, then remembering and identifying the 42 different players may have been difficult. The translation may let it down at parts, but overall this is a very touching and moving tale about love, friendship and loyalty. If you havnt seen the movie, i would recommend you read this. If you have seen the movie, then i insist you read this.
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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.
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on 9 November 2015
Its a huge book that can push away young readers but the story and the violance keeps us engaged. I had the graphic novel already so i just wanted to add the novel to my collection. As a lord of the flies kind of fan this is a must read. The teacher is tired of his students arrogant and evil behavior, now only one will leave the island alive... Maybe.
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on 27 March 2004
For those of you who have not yet seen the film I strongly recommend that you read this book first. It goes into more depth with each of the characters and contains a lot more suspense, twists and tragedies than than the film. The author has managed to bring out the personalities of the characters quite well. Ranging from the guilty struck Shuuya Nanahara to the cold blooded Kazuo Kiriyama (It is impossible to not to hate this guy!). This may seem a bit odd but I felt the book was a lot more gory than the film. How? you may ask? Just read the book, it's almost comic at times!
Those reading the book after watching the film will find that a lot of the story never made it to the screen and will find plenty of extra information about the characters' past. Overall a great book to read for newcomers and die hard fans alike.
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on 17 August 2003
I liked this as a film, but the overall idea of designing a program to get classmate to kill each other off one by one kinda didn't make sense to me. So i read the book. I love this book, it's still as gory as the film (but not unreadably gory) but fleshes out the character and the plot lines which makes everything make alot more sense :) well it did to me :) The translation also is good and the writing is addictive. Took alot of effort to put this book down once i started and that was with me knowing the story! It's a good book not a classic but a good and interresting read :)
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on 16 December 2003
I cannot stress enough to people on how brilliant this book is. After seeing the film, I needed more, I loved the movie, but trust me, the book is by far superior to its screen debut.
It's a story of love, humanity and emotion. Nothing more, But the author has done it so well, it has become my one of the best books i've read in years.
Yes this might be a short review, And yes people want opinions, but I pose this question: -
"Why read long reviews, when you can be reading the book?"
I urge anyone to read this gem.
5 Stars.
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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 :-)
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on 19 November 2013
Battle Royale is a book set in an alternate timeline where Japan has become a militaristic state ruled by the all great Dictator. Aside from outlawing rock and roll, Japan has a bunch of crazy new laws, one being the Battle Royale act, where students are abducted and forced to fight to the death as part of a 'game'. This is claimed to be for the greater good of the state, and the winner gets a life pension and an autograph from the Dictator himself!

The book follows one of these games, from the students being abducted through the three days of fighting (after which, if there is more than one student left standing, the collars attached to the surviving students explode!). The novel primarily follows Shuya and Noriko who team up with a shady Shogo hoping to overthrow the game, but the story also frequently delves into the affairs of the other students. It's a bloody book, lots of gore, but never glorified. The message of oppression hangs throughout the entire novel.

Brilliant read. The style of writing feels a bit basic at first, but you get to grips with it and get sucked in. Definitely worth experiencing and infinitely better than the film.
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on 17 April 2003
This book is based in the near future japan,A world where the japanese won the second world war.The Japanesse teens are mass boycotting school and are begining to be more than rebelious and hard to control.The government are fearing the young and pass the "educational reformation act" aka BR act.This law means that every year a randomly picked form group from a year 10(ninth grade)are picked to fight amunst themselves for 3 days and there can only be one winner, do you treat life as a game? would you kill your best friend? what would you do,on an island where nothing is against the rules?
This book details the characters and story behind each student and includes a moral and political value to this wicked and thrilling tale,It is beautifully translated from the original Japanese Novel and is bound to set your imagination and heart wild with anticipation.
Overall this book is top rate,not to be overlooked,a fantastic read and the author brings about his views and ideas of this near future brillantly.
Also check out the controversal movie battle royale.
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