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!
first--_Hunger Games_ is closely related to this book, though Collins cut out most of the explicit descriptions of the violence and made the ending/political themes more complex--though _Battle Royale_ is longer and more nuanced.
_Battle Royale_ is mostly preoccupied with descriptions of teenage angst and mistrust. The 'program' is an excellent setting for such a project, as it reduces every encounter to a catalyst for the students' motives and insecurities to play out in dramatic action. The political commentary that frames the whole story--'fascism and corrupted conservatism create an irresistable state of efficient oppression we can't break away from'--is also nicely described in the actions of the students.
Some of the writing (perhaps only the translation?) is a bit clunky and formulaic, and the performance of the reader here only accentuates that. A revised edition/translation and some careful direction for the voice talent would go a long way to making this a much better audiobook.
Dacascos reads with a good sense for pace and he gets the emotion of the main (male) characters just right, but it's a subtle and monotone reading and might come off as boring if you're hoping, for example, to hear the panic or fear or anguish in some of the students' words. He also steamrolls through some of the detail in complex dialog or description, which is where a little direction would have helped. The accent seems close enough to Japanese to be believable to my untrained ear, not sure if that's how Dacascos reads his other parts.
I enjoyed this book, but the graphic descriptions of murderous violence (not to mention a seduction-turned-murder) aren't easy to listen to. Caveat auditor.
This was a great book. I enjoyed it more than hunger games. The narrator was just bad though. This is a book about kids having to kill each other and he puts absolutely no emotion into the telling of the story. Still worth a read though.
I have not read the print version but I enjoyed this audiobook very much.
Obviously the Hunger Games series. Though, I understand Battle Royale is the archetype of the genre. Overall, I'd say I enjoyed this book a bit more than the HG series.
Soothing. Warm. Cold.
I had feelings of disgust, empathy, shock, horror, and sorrow. It's great.
Well worth a listen. Please, do not watch the movie prior to hearing/reading this. It will ruin the experience.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
Starts out with lots of promise, then drizzles. This is pre-hunger games. It is obvious that Collins got her story from here. Many have claimed this to be gory and it is, maybe. 15 year old kids are shot, stabbed, etc... by 15 year old kids and by soldiers. Kids are killed in gory fashion, but the way it is written or translated, it does not come across that way. I did not cringe at the gore, nor did I feel the intensity. Some have blamed this on the narrator. I thought the narrator was okay. He is no Dick Hill or Ray Porter, but I honestly did not feel it was his fault.
I found it interesting that a Japanese writer made Asia the bad guys and America the good guys. I also never quite understood why the government wanted these games. Collins does a lot better job explaining the reason for the games then Takami. This game is also secret and not televised, which keeps making you wonder why.
We start with 42 students and one by one they are knocked off. After the Introduction, prologue, chapters 0 thru five, we get into long dialogues on students deciding on if they should play the game and who they should trust. We consistently have this debate and then someone is killed and then the debate starts over. For most children we get a background. Their is lots of talk about who has a crush on who, etc... From chapter 11 thru 21 this sounds a lot like a teen book. Around chapter 22 with 10 hours still to go in this 19 hour marathon, Jim The Impatient said no more. I just didn't care no more.
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 ;)
Last man standing
Seeing there are options for ending.
Not sure if it adds to but certainly does not take away being able to comfortably follow action and actors.
Not being use to the Asian Names took bit to sort and keep up with characters.Good read very graphic violence yet goes with concept of the book, nice twists and turns that keep you wondering til the end.
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.