Battle Royale, a high-octane thriller about senseless youth violence in a dystopian world, it is one of Japan's best-selling - and most controversial - novels. As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, ninth-grade students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when they break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one "winner" remains. The elimination contest becomes the ultimate in must-see reality television.
A Japanese pulp classic available in English-language audio for the first time, Battle Royale is a potent allegory of what it means to be young and survive in today's dog-eat-dog world. The first novel by small-town journalist Koushun Takami, it went on to become an even more notorious film by 70-year-old director Kinji Fukusaku.
©1999 Koushun Takami; Translation copyright 2009, Yuji Oniki (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
Battle Royale is terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. It's actually given me nightmares. It's also one of my absolute favorite books ever.
I read the print version of the book several times before getting it in audio format, and I think that that made listening to it much easier than if I had listened to it without reading it. The book was translated from Japanese, and the translation's not perfect, so that takes some getting used to, as does the fact that there are 42 children all with very similar Japanese names. It takes a little more concentration to follow Battle Royale than it probably takes for most other books.
If you can get over those few problems, though, and explicit violence doesn't make you cringe, you'll realize that this story is wonderfully terrifying.
Forty-two 15-year-old classmates are thrown onto an island and told to fight until only of of them survives. (Think The Hunger Games, but for grown ups). And heed this warning very seriously - the violence in this book gets *very* graphic. If you're someone for whom that might be a problem, don't buy it. Try the print version instead.
This is a great book, not a great audiobook. I read this book twice and decided that it would be fun to listen to it in my spare time since I loved it so much, bad mistake. The narrator is the worst narrator I have ever heard. ever. This is an emotional book and he puts no emotion into it. The characters all sound the same and when someone is dying and yelling at their enemy he reads the same as if they were talking to a friend. He does do a good job pronouncing names but this in no way makes up for how horrible he did with everything else. the narrator manages to make a book that is so intense and exciting come off as such a boring book. sometimes you dont even understand what is going on because of how horrible it is read. I hope that they decide to make another version read by someone that can put emotion into characters. If you really want to enjoy battle royale just pick up the hard copy of the book, it is so much better.
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.
Richard isn't Bad, he's just writtten that way
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.
If it didn't sound like Mark was bored reading it. He is a pretty good actor but put absolutely no acting in. It was bad and it made me bored and not interested in the book. Good thing I read it a long time ago.
Difficult to say. I suppose it would have to be after all the fluff in the beginning and they get right down to the game where the students learn what's going on and have to grab their packs and leave. I felt the author did really well putting the audience in that room.
Everything but above all just shocked and surprised he played it so stiff. One has to wonder why he was chosen in the first place. It seemed like it was just a paying gig for him and sadly I think the organizers figured nobody would care. Now, plenty of lazy people who would never read the book are going in and having a very bad experience with what is a very good book.
With the book, impressed. With the audio book, major disappointment.
When you don't do something right, redo it. This time without Mark. Love ya, buddy, but this was God awful.
I enjoy fantasy, political, and sci fiction books and I love dogs
I honestly didn't like this book very much because I'm not in to gory details but for some one who doesn't mind the story would be great...
Something science fiction with less gore
I really was not impressed by the writing in this book, It did not flow well and jumping to all the different points of view was at times hard to follow. I had to force myself to finish it only because I don’t like leaving things unfinished. I did like the fact it was a bit more auctioned packed and mature that HG just wished it flowed better and the character’s speech felt more realistic
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.
I might have preferred to read this story than listen to it because I'm not familiar with Japanese names. There are more than 42 characters in this book, and it was hard to keep track of them all. Though, I believe the author knew that it's hard to keep track of 42 characters, so they're also numbered (e.g. "so-and-so, female student number 11").
My favourite people are probably the "good guys" that we spend a fair amount of time with -- like Shuya, Shogo, Noriko, Shinji, and Hiroki -- but I also liked some of the "bad guys" like Mitsuko and Kazuo. All the characters were really fleshed out and seem like real people to me.
I decided to watch the movie because the book was so amazing, but it's one of those situations where they didn't do a very good job transferring the story. If you know anyone who likes the movie, encourage them to read the book, it's much better. And if you've read the book, maybe don't watch the movie. You'll just find yourself saying or thinking, "In the book..." throughout the movie.
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