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Review: Battle Royale

Originally published at Morbid Romantic. You can comment here or there.

Title: Battle Royale
Author(s): Koushun Takami
Genre: Fiction - Dystopia
Tags: alternate universe, dictatorship, dystopia, fascism, japan, survival, violence
Finished: January 5, 2009
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I’ve been eager to read this book for a while since I own both Battle Royale movies and I read the manga years ago. This book is as troubling as it is insightful– troubling because it shows you the truth depth of human desperation and troubling because it makes the reader enjoy it. This book isn’t full of thesaurus words or flowery, flowing descriptions. It’s simple and to the point, and every effective. The book shows us how people, normal people, can descend into madness. How many of us would be able to kill someone? I’m sure many people would say, “not I,” yet how do we know until we’re put in that position? Each character in the book experiences their own personal reaction to fear, violence and the threat of death, which could come at any moment. How each handles this situation is where the insight comes in. We come to see that fear is more complex than the word describes. Some justify killing with logic, however poor, some do it out of instinct, and some do it to protect others. This isn’t a book to pass over lightly because of its subject. I know that the thought of middle school students killing each other off on an island is sour, but Battle Royale is an excellent book about human nature and how humans exist in a world out of their control. There is hope, though! The main characters Shuya and Noriko fight a force far larger than themselves, which gives a glimmer of hope in the madness. Granted, there is no peaceful resolution at the end. The world as the characters know it does not crumble or end. It stays strong and in control, but the resistance of a few is only a minor shine to the possible resistance of many. Even in a world of chaos and death, there is loyalty and friendship.

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  1. All reviews are an expression of my own opinions and contains my own personal analysis. []
  2. I review honestly and can promise my review will reflect my true feelings towards a book, good or bad. []
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