Book Review: ‘Battle Royale’ by Koushun Takami

‘Battle Royale’ is gory, vile and heart-wrenching, everything I could ever want from a book. 

It follows a class of 15 year old students in a futuristic Japan, who are forced to kill one another.

Author Koushun Takami left almost no detail to the imagination. His fight scenes were epic, “Takako’s right middle finger and thumb tore through his eyelids and dug into his eye sockets.”, and he addressed issues such as loyalty, the fragility of life, rape and human morals through a bunch of teenagers. 

Needless to say, Takami did an amazing job, not for a second was I not completely engrossed. These kids were made to question everything they knew about themselves and seriously consider multiple homicide as their only option. 

The whole time, it was impossible to forget that these developed and complicated characters were kids. Their priorities were tangled, with some, for example, finding the person they fancied at a time of desperation and others killing mercilessly without a care of whether they won or not. 

However, at no point were these characters or their thoughts ‘flimsy’ and it never resembled a YA novel, despite featuring such young protagonists. Some dealt with the situation accordingly and others totally lost their sanity and that is what made every character feel so human. They were going through a type of both physical and mental torture and yet, they never lost their humanity and some, their innocence; many tried to get through the game without killing at all. 

Takami also featured all 42 of the students at least once before they died, allowing the reader to feel somewhat attached and then jerking them straight out the plot in some grisly way. 

The western equivalent, ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins simply does not compare to this masterpiece. 

It is easy to wonder in this post-Trump era, how far off our government and society is from allowing something of this nature to happen?

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