Hunger Games... Like Battle Royale? Need to know from someone who has read both The Hunger Games and Battle Royale: are they anything alike? Cause the Hunger Games sounds a lot like a toned down version of Battle Royale.
I've read both and there are certainly similarities in plot. In my opinion, Battle Royale was the far superior novel though it's not for the faint of heart. In BR, the violence is brutal, fast-paced and nonstop, and the story in general is kept very dark. Hunger Games takes a very similar concept and delivers it in a package geared more toward the young adult or teen reader with tamer tastes. I had a harder time connecting with Hunger Games because the characters are somewhat shallow and the story is more fantasy-based. In BR, the story is disturbing but the characters are much more realistic, better developed ( I had no trouble keeping up with over 40 characters with Japanese names) and the story is very well written.
I find it hard to believe Ms. Collins came up with the idea of HG with no knowledge of Battle Royale. The similarities are just too numerous. That said, Hunger Games is not necessarily a bad book and if you are looking for what I would consider BR Light, with a twist of romance and fantasy, it could be what you want.
Oh, and the movie version of Battle Royale doesn't begin to do the book justice. It was like watching a highlight reel of the kills with no character development and very little of the story. I can certainly see why a viewer would think the book wouldn't be worth reading after seeing it.
kacunnin's review above is spot on. Similar premise, alternative messages, and vastly different delivery.
HG is an adventure story. The heroine is strong, capable, resourceful; possessing all the characteristics you could easily see making a winner right from the outset. Much of the story basically follows her around as she demonstrates just how capable she is -- a very "satisfying" figure for vicarious (if shallow) heroism, particularly given the first-person perspective.
Unfortunately this really hampers any feelings of suspense, risk or danger, which in turn reduces your empathy for an already-not-very-empathetic character. She's somewhat one-dimensional and predictable, and remains so through most of the book. There's little development in her character through the course of story and, while difficult situations do have an immediate effect on her and linger in her memories as discrete events, you don't really get the sense that her core personality has been significantly affected or that her views have been altered by the end. Situations have changed around her, but they haven't really changed -her-.
There is some violence but the author doesn't dwell on it, so it actually factors into the story surprisingly little -- it mainly serves only as a segue into the next "adventure" portion. The book has an anti-establishment vibe, it rails against totalitarianism... but no more at the end than it does at the beginning. There is a love story element in HG but the emotional side is glossed over through much of the book. It's really not explored very deeply from the heroine's perspective (which is primarily due to her relatively unsympathetic character), yet it is one of the few ways she emerges with a marginally different view of the world. Overall, very little really changes from the beginning to the end of the story.
Battle Royale isn't an adventure story. The protagonist isn't particularly heroic or capable, he's just a regular, nice guy; so, while you're rooting for him, you're still terrified for him. BR is much more an exploration of the human psyche. Unlike HG, it is very dark, very brutal, very emotional, and very disturbing.
While characters in HG are more or less set in stone for the duration and only serve to provide predictable, known obstacles for the heroine to overcome in her A-to-B adventure, BR looks far more deeply at the descent into chaos and madness, the regression to base instincts for survival, the way bonds are made and severed in desperation. That makes it unpredictable, and the unpredictability is what makes it gripping, uncomfortable, even horrifying. It's like distilling Lord of the Flies.
Just as HG glosses over the violence, it glosses over the moral dilemmas and moral ambiguity associated with them -- the heroine never finds herself in a particularly difficult situation, and any true dilemmas that might present themselves are are neatly sidestepped or resolved to everyone's satisfaction. BR, on the other hand, doesn't shy away from gut-wrenching decisions and horrific actions, and the gore in BR serves precisely to support those scenes. And that's exactly why BR is able to explore the way experiences fundamentally change, mold, even break its characters, while HG's characters emerge relatively psychologically unscathed.
Don't get me wrong, HG is not a bad book by any means. It's well written and definitely keeps you involved, but it's too predictable and far too "safe" to be considered adult fiction. It's very much "BR Lite". BR, on the other hand, is definitely an adult novel despite the age of the characters. (Don't consider the film version of BR to be an adequate substitute for the book, btw: not even close.) I haven't read books 2 and 3 of HG yet -- but fully intend to -- so perhaps elements that are missing from the first are explored in the remainder of the series.
The premise is the same -- school-age children are forced to fight to the death by a corrupt government. The characterizations, however, are very different. Battle Royal is much more brutal -- graphic and continuous violence, sex, profanity. It is not a children's book. Hunger Games is a YA novel, and as such it focuses more on the relationships between its central characters (an aspect of the trilogy that can become tedious for older readers). I found Battle Royal to be more gripping and more disturbing, with themes that more closely relate to Golding's Lord of the Flies (Takami has a lot to say about the human propensity for violence). Collins' novel is much more focused on how horrible the Panem government is -- Katniss, for example, never finds herself drawn into the horrors of the games the way Takami's characters do. If Takami's novel (like Golding's) illuminates the darkness at the heart of humanity, then Collins's novel (like Orwell's 1984) illuminates the evils of totalitarianism.
I actually enjoyed them pretty equally. It just comes down to what your tastes are.
The Hunger Games is definitely toned down and less gory, and a bit more romance-heavy. Battle Royale is very graphically violent as stated above, but that wasn't my main problem with it, since I don't really mind violent books. I took more issue with the translation, which was poorly done, as if the translator did not have a firm grasp of English. I also didn't like how it portrayed the female characters in the story- they were all either quite weak, or were highly sexualized, with nothing in between. So if you are looking for strong female characters it is definitely better to read the Hunger Games. Other than those issues, I liked BR. I would recommend reading both books if you have time on your hands, but don't expect great writing or particularly memorable characters from either one.
Most people comparing BR to Hunger games are comparing one version of BR only. To really see how close they are you have to compare BR as a franchise (novel, manga and films).
Both have an evil government which oppresses it's citizens and keeps them from turning against them in part by running a game where teenagers are forced to kill one another. (BR novel)
Both make this game entertainment for the elite of this government (BR manga)
Games use engineered means to bring combatants together so that the body count continues to rise. (all versions of BR)
Star a character who beats the game rather than simply winning it, and in doing so manages so save the person close to them (all versions of BR)
The person who beats the game ends up inspiring others to rise up against the government and ends up a leader of this movement (BR films)
A subsequent game is held involving the protagonist, staged by the government as part of a plan to kill the protagonist in hopes of weakening the uprising. (BR films)
The real changes Collins made are giving more time before the game in the first book (BR gave information through flashbacks and/or inner monologue), and expanding the story beyond the second game (which BR has not done). Other than that the piece seems largely like Collins took a dark disturbing piece and made is sanitized for the teen market.
I can not fault her for stealing the idea and using ti to play to the Twilight crowd, but I certainly can fault her for saying again and again that she had never heard of BR until the novel was written when it plot wise it felt like she held up a synopsis of BR and then worked to flesh it out on her own.
I just finished reading Hunger Games, and yes, it's pretty much a revamping of Battle Royale, albeit a less gory and more teen-friendly one. I don't know what she's said or hasn't said about Battle Royale, but there's no way she wrote this book without having known about it. Combine the Lottery and Battle Royale, tone down the violence, and this is what you get.
Finished BR three days ago and ((sigh))...I agree. The H/Games took so much from BR it's ridiculous. She must have read the book, the manga or seen the movie because she took the majority of it and went with it, in her own way. In her own way, but not. I can't get over it, it's beyond cruel to not give any type of credit to BR for giving her the inspiration. I say this because if there is anyone out there that read BR and then read HG they would know that she snatched up the majority of her story from it, from the characters, the plot, the weapons....pfffttt...I'm still in shock. Battle Royale was a far better book in my opinion, but that's just my opinion.