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Customer Review

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and thought-provoking read, 23 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Battle Royale (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
I read this book after seeing the film, and reading some of the manga, so I came to it expecting more of the same - I was pleasantly surprised.

The book has the luxury of being able to explore each character in depth, something that the film was unable to do. You get a more rounded portrait of the class, although don't assume that this is just the book of the film - the characters here are more like the ones in the manga, but they're subtly different again from their graphic-novel counterparts. These are characters that we half-know, and it's interesting to find out more about them - how friendships developed, what's going on inside their heads as they go through their ordeal.

Shuuya, our hero, is likeable and capable of calling up our affection. Noriko remains a bit of a drip, but that's only to be expected in a book which offers up only one or two strong, interesting female characters. As a reader, you honestly start to wonder what you would do in that situation.

However, I can't skate over the fact that this is an awkward book to read. The name of the translator is Japanese, not European, and it's an inescapable fact that this book isn't perfectly translated. Sentences can be shaky and repetitive, with word-choices that seem strange to a Westerner. The introduction at the beginning could do with some explaining. Some metaphors are very strange and come across as either inappropriate or just plain weird, and you do get the sense that this novel could have done with a bit more editing before it was published in the English language - and maybe another translator for good measure.

That's not to say that it's a bad book. Although some of the characters can be confusing and difficult to keep track of (why the author gives some of the 42 characters the same first names or last names is beyond me), it's a good story, and you'll keep reading it right to the end. Just ignore the strange errors in grammar if you're a nit-picker like me, and sit back to enjoy the interplay of teenage personalities as they try to deal with an impossible situation.
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