Battle Royale is a brutal, both physically and mentally. It tosses you into the middle of a corrupt world and forces you to be witness to an event that’s deadly and well established. Innocent and not-so innocent teenagers die every few pages in unapologetic prose. No sooner do we come to know a student’s personality and the past when he or she is killed, the abruptness of losing someone interesting you’ve just begun to know a definite stomach turner, a definite shake-up.
If this kind of dystopian literature is kind of thin, there’s plenty of it to be had. Even if you’ve got a weak stomach for violence, however, Battle Royale still gives you alot to think about. Koushun Takami’s writing is nothing striking, and yet there’s something about the plainness of it. The bluntness of the translated version that gets into your veins and messes up your organs. It’s the way he gives us a brief character of each of the 42 students – and then takes them away in horrifying manners. It’s the the way that his book’s world takes the existence of the “Program” as expected – unchageable. And it’s the way that this book makes you doubt yourself and the characters, not sure whom you should trust, just as the government intends for you to react.
This book has inevitably been compared to The Hunger Games, so why not say what I think about the two? The Hunger Games is clearly YA, readers are spared the too-gruesome details and through the eyes of Katniss, are spared the intensity of the horror that arises when a character whose history you know dies. Battle Royale is a stand-alone novel, which makes its shocker of an ending all the more satisfying.
If I had to make a choice between the two. I’d go with The Hunger Games, for its less stomach-churning material and the successful development of memorable characters. However, Battle Royale provides more questions to think over, more disturbing ideas and images that will keep you up later in the night. If you do not have a weak stomach and have to time to read an intense 600-page work, I suggest pick up Battle Royale in order to completely annihilate everything you’ve previously thought about the dark side of human nature and our curiosity in violence and death