11 December, 2015

Battle royale by Koushun Takami

Battle Royale is a story set in an alternative version of late 90s where Japan has become a fascist police state named the Republic of Greater East Asia. Shuya Nanahara is on a what he thinks is a class study trip before his bus is gassed. His entire class wakes to find that they are part of the annual government program where each class member must take part in a survival contest where the goal is to kill one another until only one remains.

Battle Royale is, in a sense, a product of its time (initially released in 1999 to significant controversy) but remains a hard hitting and excellent read. It is probably more familiar outside of Japan for its motion picture release which came out in the west before the novel. More recently it is well known for the influence it has had on recent material such as the Hunger Games and the manga Gantz.

The overarching themes of death, loyalty, murder, psychology, exploitation, morals and love are revealed through the eyes of the various classmates in numerous scenarios. Each comes with various degrees of suspense and often tragedy. Once the driving scenario is initiated there is less a sense of “How they’ll get out?” than “How can they possibly get out?” There is also a sub-element of escaping one nightmarish element only to return to another.

Battle Royale is both frightening and frighteningly good and is not for the squeamish. I highly recommend this for mature readers who have yet to experience this recent classic in one form or another. Thumbs up people!

Title: Battle Royale
Author: Koushun Takami; translated from the Japanese by Yuji Oniki.

Recommended by James W, Mangere Bridge Library

James W is straight outta Mangere…Bridge. James has too many books to read over summer, which is not necessarily a bad thing. He has too many dvds too watch over summer also. No drama. Then there's his stack(s) of unfinished video games... James prefers winter.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, it is a gripping read, and worth reading before you watch the movie. Definitely a precursor for the Hunger Games.


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