This is a brutal book, so keep that in mind. I was really happy with this book for about the first half. I was really excited to hear the next chapter to find out what would happen. But then little annoyances started to stack up.
The main annoyance was the narrator. He comes off as someone who, while not having a accent, is not a native English speaker. His annunciation and speaking tempo tend to take you out of the book. Often multiple syllable words come off as separate words in his speaking tempo. So instead of a sentence sounding like "we will loose our ability to" come off as "we will loose our abl it y to". This did not happen all the time, but often enough. Also he is very monotone. Often in discussions it is very hard to tell who is speaking. I feel that had this had a different narrator like say Steven Pacey, it would have been a much more enjoyable book.
Another annoyance was that as the book progressed, I got the feeling the author was a fan of guns (they are all listed by full name and model every time they are mentioned). But that he had not spend much time shooting them. A 15 year old girl is able to double tap someone in the head with a 357 magnum. Kids are able to perfectly manage the recoil of sub machine guns with no practice. These kids are also able to throw knives and hit their targets every time.
I saw in reviews that people were thrown off by all the discussions of who has a crush on who in the middle of a battle. I figure it is something in the Japanese culture that is very important and because we were not raised that way, it is not something that makes sense to us. But I feel that for people who grew up in Japan it makes more sense.
In general though as the book progressed it got less and less realistic, so by the end I felt like I was listening to the narration from a 90's B action movie with Sylvester Stallone. If you had asked me halfway through the book what I thought. I would have told you "this book is great". After finishing I would tell you "read or listen to it if you want to know what people are referring to, but there are other books that are better."
The only thing that this has in common with The Hunger Games is that kids are sent into a area and told to kill each other. I honestly don't know why people think Hunger Games is a crappy ripoff of this.
Life is too short to waste on bad authors.
I've read this book twice, hard copy and always wanted an audible version so I could listen at work. The fact that Mark Dacascos was able to pronounce the Japanese names extremely well, his voice was slightly monotone. However, for me, it was fine because I'd read the book before and hearing the action sequences rather than reading them made what was happening more clear.
Kiriyama's ruthlessness as he took out two girls at close range. Yikes! That scene in the book and the movie always makes me cringe.
His pronunciation of Japanese names.
Shinji Mimura ;)
Kids are being murdered in some pretty brutal ways, and yet they spend an awful lot of time discussing their crushes. I find this distracting and ridiculous.
Also distracting is the bad writing. I cannot tell if it's the fault of the author or the translator, but this book contains grammatical errors, at least one confusion between meters and centimeters, and this horrible line: "For a moment, Yutaka fell silent, but then he answered immediately." You cannot have that "moment" and then an immediate answer. There are dozens more lines like this that made me laugh out loud and took me out of the story.
I feel bad for the narrator. I cannot evaluate his performance fairly because the writing is stilted and unnatural. I suspect he did what he could.
All of this is unfortunate because there is something interesting in this book. I was fascinated by ways the relationships between these kids unraveled because of distrust. And given what is revealed at the end about why the program exists, it makes perfect sense. Making people suspicious of one another has always been a key tactic of totalitarian states. But there is too much bad writing, and I could not enjoy the story.
Note to those about to listen: You might want to find a list of characters online and print it out for reference. I am one of those people who has trouble with foreign names, and there are so many characters in this book and the names are sometimes so similar that I lost track a few times. I mean, there's one scene with Yukie, Yuka AND Yuko. I nearly lost my mind.
I love a great story.
This was a fun listen! Once I got past the mildly awkward dialogue and narrative that resulted from the translation of the original material into English, I throughly enjoyed this story. I read quite a few negative reviews of the narrator, but I had no problem with his performance. He does not have an expressive voice, but I found his performance strangely calming and enjoyable. If you don't mind hatchets to the skull and exploding heads - this just might be the book for you!
Honestly this is one of my favorite stories. Definitely not a tale for everyone but it's best in the genre if you ask me. Thought the audio performance was very good too.
As with all audiobooks, the narrator can make the difference. For this book, a battle to the death, the reader was far too subdued. There was no real inflection throughout, and the story become monotonous over the 19+ hours.
While the concept of the book is entertaining, the execution was anything but. However, the 3-stars was earned for the twists offered by the author.
I think this book would be better if read yourself. The audiobook version seemed to take the life out of the story for me.
Yes, I plan to see the movie version
I can overlook mispronounced character names on the off chance the character decides to pronounce their name with a sound not found in Japanese. I cannot overlook mispronounced city and island names. In particular, Tokyo and Honshu.
I was born a Scorpio and habitual line-stepper in Berkeley, CA and the rest is history...
What a great book!
I picked it up because a friend heard me raving about The Hunger Games trilogy and vehemently expressed his disdain for it, stating the author had "bitten" this story. I loved all three of The Hunger Games books so I decided to check it out. I had to get the audiobook to accompany it because a book as long as this one will take me forever to get through if I am not able to listen to it while I drive.
Surely this isn't the first ever book that has been written about a fight to the death but it seems to me pretty unique in that junior high students are put into the mix as the contestants.
There are definitely a lot of parallels and similarities and while no one can say for sure if The Hunger Games blatantly "bit" Battle Royale, it is clear that the author read this book prior to writing hers and definitely tailored it to be extremely similar.
But hey, whatever... Nothing is new under the sun.
Normally, I have to question the editing of a book that is more than 400 pages. Maybe it's my journalistic training but I just don't understand what you have to say in 600+ pages that you couldn't say in 400. If your book is that long, it better be brimming with absolutely necessary prose or I'm going to be pissed. Every page of Battle Royale was absolutely necessary.
Although there were clear main characters, I love how nearly all of the 42 student perspectives were shown. It made it that much more heart-wrenching when one of the students I liked died. My dialogue with the book while reading surely made my husband think I was nuts. I was constantly yelling "Noooo," "Are you serious!" and "Don't trust him/her! Kill him/her!" It was an emotional roller coaster and I very much enjoyed the ride.
Short chapters are essential to me. I need frequent breaks in a story. This book did not disappoint in that regard. I also enjoyed the official count of how many students were still alive at the end of each chapter. It added to the anticipation. I found myself skipping ahead and looking at the count thinking "Oh no! 3 students are going to die! Please don't let it be ______!" The descriptions of the violence, blood, and gore were so thorough that I found myself turning my face away from the book in horror as the images came to life in my mind. Yikes!
Not sure why people said the names were confusing. I had no problem distinguishing the 42 Japanese names. I also thought the narrator did a great job distinguishing voices. Some people didn't like the narrator but I really did.
19hours and I finished it in 4 days because I could not turn it off.
While I loved the Hunger Games, I will say this; if I had read this first, I would not have liked The Hunger Games nearly as much...
Who knows what the future will bring, but as of this very moment, Battle Royale is my favorite read of the year...