Customer Review

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best character-driven novels I've ever read!, November 24, 2009
This review is from: Battle Royale: The Novel (Paperback)
I was first introduced to "Battle Royale" by a good friend of mine who said I just HAD to watch the movie. It took me a while 'cause the movie is not distributed in the U.S. and, therefore, is hard to buy or rent. Finally, I found it to rent and the movie was amazing ... phenomenal! I had bought the book (the novel NOT the manga) a few months ago (before watching the movie) but hadn't gotten around to reading it yet. After watching the movie, I just HAD to read it and finally picked it up and began reading all 620 pages within a week or so.

All I can say about the book is: it's 10 times better than the movie!!!! This book is clever and insane at the same time, making it a terrific, can't-put-the-book-down-type of read! As was said in one of the earlier reviews, you wouldn't think it'd be easy to keep up with the 42 students but, after a while, it is. Unlike the movie (which was very good for the time they had to keep it down to), the book is seen through pretty much every character's point of view and the action scenes as well as the explanation of injuries and deaths is so well-written and described that you can't help but wonder what author Koushun Takami is going to write for his next book.

I do have to admit that I'm a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and since the novel mentions him and quotes one of his famous songs during a crucial end scene of the book, my liking of this book grew hugely! The fact that Takami was able to comment on not only young adult issues but also of country politics and economics, computer hacking, fascism and emotional issues (plus the importance of rock music and its influence) is astounding! All of these issues are addressed within this book without sounding preachy and complicatedly overdiscussed to the point of boredom. He writes with such knowledge and detail of computer hacking and homemade bomb-making that it makes the reader wonder whether he has personal experience with these things or not.

Like I said, the reader REALLY gets to know more of the characters and their emotions in this book, which makes it all the more tragic when each come to their demise. Because there are 42 different characters, there are several stories, emotions and thoughts varying of love, hate, sadness, fear, and hope that you see through each person. Because of not only our, but the world's, desensitized views on violence, I think people who read or hear about this book (and see the movie) really don't take in the extreme seriousness of the plot: Imagine having to kill your friends (... your best friends, for that matter) to survive. Could you do it? Could you actually live with memories like that? The idea alone is scary as hell and these 9th grade students have to do just that!

The book is a mix of A Clockwork Orange, Lord of the Flies (Perigee), 1984 (Signet Classics), and Stephen King's The Running Man and The Long Walk all in one. I've always been impressed with books, movies or TV shows that are ensemble and focus on a group of people rather than just two or one person(s). And the characters in this are all so wonderfully described that you wonder what would become of them or what they would be like if you knew them in real life. If you wondered why some parts of the movie were the way they were, then read the book and it answers pretty much everything. There is also a great love story (without becoming too mushy) and PLENTY of action and plot twists. I do have to warn squeamish readers that this book is very descriptive and violent. There aren't really any sexual situations but the violence is plentiful. Like the movie Final Destination (New Line Platinum Series), near the middle of the first part of the book, you morbidly begin wondering how the next student will meet their death. And each death can be seen as a metaphoric failure-in-life because of that character's personality flaw under stress, which would lead to their failure in life because of the usual stresses that life can sometimes bring (i.e. SPOILER -- the young couple commit suicide rather than fight to survive and live; their kind of love has blinded them 'cause they can't imagine living without each other). Fear and selfishness are the true enemies which lead to death in this story.

The only flaw with the first edition was because it was translated from Japanese to English, there were sometimes grammatical errors and words missing but in this edition, they're all improved! Also included that's new to this edition is a forward by Max Allan Collins (The Road to Perdition), an afterword by the author (think of it almost as a "commentary" on the book), and a interview with the director of the 2000 movie, Kinji Fukasaku (The Yakuza Papers - Battles Without Honor & Humanity (Complete Box Set), basically the Japanese The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration Giftset DVD).

This book is simply one of the best stories I've ever read! In the form of a survival/violent action story, the plot is really about learning to make your way in the world and not being afraid to go out there and live. Life can be scary but its worth living.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 29, 2012 5:52:46 PM PST
Goliath2k says:
You had a good review until you included the spoiler in there...could you please edit it out? If you're going to put a Spoiler please put carriage returns in so that way we can scroll down to skip the spoiler block.

Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2012 5:28:05 PM PDT
amerdale876 says:
What was the spoiler? And I'll be sure to edit.
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