Review: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Genre: YA (?) I’m not sure.
Warnings: A lot of gore, bloody scenes, mature themes throughout
Summary: Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller envisions a nightmare scenario: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan—where it became a runaway best seller—Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.
Think Hunger Games. Put it through a wood chipper and smash it back together with nails and bolts and blood. Then you’ve got Battle Royale.
The similarities are undeniable, but so is the fact that BR was published in 1999, nine years before Suzanne Collins’s bestselling trilogy. This, I feel, is the original story, and like all original stories, it’s so much better.
Battle Royale takes place in Okishima Island off the coast of Japan, where a class of 42 students is placed and forced to annihilate itself within three days, leaving only one victor standing. It mainly follows the stories of Shuya Nanahara, Shogo Kawada, and Noriko Nakagawa. Be warned: BR is not for the faint of heart. It’s 570+ pages of gore and bloodshed in bitter detail. When I read this back in 2012, I was afraid of writing about it because of how gruesome it is. Though it is known for it’s explicit nature, it also deals with some pretty deep emotional issues that the reader gets to know about as the novel progresses. It leaves room for lots of character development, and we get to see the motivations behind a cast of several characters besides the protagonists. What I like about this story is that we are not only limited to our 3 main protagonists, but that we are given the backstories of several others and get to know them in their own way. Heartbreaking and thrilling, Battle Royale will have your heart pumping from start to finish. Battle Royale being one of my favorite books, I highly, highly recommend.
I gave this book 5/5 stars on goodreads.