Books that have film Adaptations · Chinese/ Japanese lit

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

“Even an ordinary guy like me sometimes can think everything is pointless. Why do I wake up in the morning and eat? It all ends up shit in the end. Why do I go to school and study? Even in the unlikely chance I end up successful in the future, I’m still going to die.”

I was recommended this book it sounded like it was worth a try. I usually stay away from Japanese literature generally, but I set out to read this all the same.

It is over 600 pages and packs a lot in. It is a similar – and I would say, superior – premise to the Hunger Games trilogy. 50 students are forced to fight each other until a singular student remains. Quite a simple basic premise but a surprisingly well written book. It is very dense so perfect for long periods of sustained inertia, but there were so many twists and turns that I was kept enthralled throughout its entire duration.

Character development was brilliant with all of the characters, including the students. Even if, as the story unfolded, there were plenty of romances it wasn’t to the fore and it wasn’t the book’s main driving force (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games…). The dystopian elements of the story are brought out really well and the scenario felt so real, as if it could happen tomorrow.

If you don’t like gore, then this is not the book for you. There’s a lot of it, in plenty of different ways. However, it wasn’t a total gore fest and there were even plenty of funny and sad moments in equal measure. In reading this, I tried to stick mostly with personal recommendation and tried as hard as possible to stay away from other reviews or plot outlines. In that way, I wanted my review to be as naturalistic as possible. As a result, I didn’t realise how much of a following this book had. There is even a manga of it, which I really want to check out some time.

Ultimately, I think there are many elements of this book which will stay with me for a long time. This book will certainly be in my Top 10 books before long, although I don’t think I’ll be reading it again any time soon. Not to say its a bad book, its just I need time for it to settle in my mind and I also really want to explore other books at the same time.

MY RATING: **** / *****


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