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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.
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.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
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.
19 of 22 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
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.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Battle Royale?
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.
What didn’t you like about Mark Dacascos’s performance?
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.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
With the book, impressed. With the audio book, major disappointment.
Any additional comments?
When you don't do something right, redo it. This time without Mark. Love ya, buddy, but this was God awful.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
This book was good, but I will admit I had a hard time with the names. I finally found a print out and wrote notes next to the name with a brief character description, this helped me keep all the characters straight. I know some of the descriptions are cliché, but that is how the author wrote them. Of course it didn't hurt that the kids all had numbers next to their names. The narrator was good, I thought he had a clear voice with a slight Asian accent. This is a very dark book in that the scenes are bloody and I think it makes it worse that they were all friends and schoolmates. Yes there is the teenage crushes going on but the kids are 15, they usually don't have much else on their mind. Probably has to do with all the hormones running through their bodies. Even if the other kids are dying, most people/kids think they will be the exception. I picked this book up because I heard it was like Hunger games. The premises is the same where "there can only be one" but the story is much more gruesome. Like the game "clue" each opponent has a different type of weapon that is supplied.
1. Yoshio Akamatsu- big kid, timid, picked on
2. Keita Iijima- former friend of Shinji
3. Tatsumichi Oki- jock plays handball
4. Toshinori Oda- short, thin, violinist, snob
5. Shogo Kawada- older kid, scarred, held back a year due to injury, scares other delinquents
6. Kazuo Kiriyama- leader of delinquents, father rich, top student, good at sports, different kind of person
7. Yoshitoki Kuninobu- orphan, crush on Norika, Shuya's childhood friend
8. Yoji Kuramoto- Yoshimi's boyfriend
9. Hiroshi Kuronaga- delinquent
10. Ryuhei Sasagawa- delinquent
11. Hiroki Sugimura- tall, lanky, reserved, into marshal arts, Takako's best friend
12. Yutaka Seto- class clown, orphan, Shinji childhood friend
13. Yuichiro Takiguchi- jock
14. Sho Tsukioka- delinquent, gay
15. Shuya Nanahara- main character, orphan, plays electric guitar, used to play baseball
16. Kazushi Niida- jock plays soccer
17. Mitsuru Numai- delinquent
18. Tadakatsu Hatagami- jock plays baseball, Shuya former friend
19. Shinji Mimura- short hair, wears earring, very athletic, mature views on world knowledge
20. Kyoichi Motobuchi- hard studier, class representative, father in government
21. Kazuhiko Yamamoto- girlfriend is Sakura
1. Mizuho Inada- weird girl
2. Yukie Utsumi- class representative, mainstream girls/neutrals
3. Megumi Eto- believes in ghost
4. Sakura Ogawa- boyfriend is Kazuhiko
5. Izumi Kanai- preppy, mainstream girls/neutrals
6. Yukiko Kitano- Yumiko's childhood friend, likes to bake
7. Yumiko Kusaka- Yukiko's childhood friend, tomboy
8. Kayoko Kotohiki- regular girl
9. Yuko Sakaki- regular girl
10. Hirono Shimizu- delinquent
11. Mitsuko Souma- leader of girl delinquents, pretty
12. Haruka Tanizawa- tall, plays volley ball, mainstream girls/neutrals
13. Takako Chigusa- pretty, track, Hiroki's best friend
14. Mayumi Tendo- delinquent
15. Noriko Nakagawa- normal, petite and playful, likes to write, Yoshitoki's crush
16. Yuka Nakagawa- heavy girl
17. Satomi Noda- model student, calm, intelligent, mainstream girls/neutrals
18. Fumiyo Fujiyoshi- gossipy girl
19. Chisato Matsui- quite, withdrawn, mainstream girls/neutrals
20. Kaori Minami- pop star fan
21. Yoshimi Yahagi- delinquent, Yoji's girlfriend
15 of 18 people found this review helpful
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.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I have been hearing about Battle Royale since I first got into the dystopian society genre and now I'm kicking myself for not adding it to my collection sooner. This story completely blew me away. What I loved about it was that all of the children involved had preexisting relationships and perceptions of one another giving the story emotional depth. If you're not into violence, I would skip this one. It was incredibly graphic.
The only thing I would change about this is the narrator. This was such an exciting and emotional journey and his narration lacked the passion I was looking for.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Great idea, poorly executed. Takami's overarching idea and plot device -- children pitted against one another in a fight to the death -- is compelling. Compelling enough that the Hunger Games trilogy and film franchise seem to be based on the same essential idea. But the Hunger Games did it much, much better.
But both the writing and translation are truly awful. Takami is ridiculously repetitive (frequently revealing information through narration, only to have that information immediately repeated in character dialogue), displays no sense of drama or suspense (referring to "a dark figure" appearing, for example, when it is beyond evident who the "dark figure" is, then revealing the name of the character as though it was a startling revelation, or describing how a character had just been shot, after which a "red substance" appeared, which shockingly turned out to be blood), and employs a dizzying array of both trite and absurdly inapt similes and metaphors (so many that I can't single out just one for special attention). Nearly every character is a "star" in some sport or other -- this group of kids apparently is from the Japanese version of Lake Woebegone, where all the students are above average. With few exceptions, every time two or more characters are together in a quiet moment between gory scenes and murder attempts, they manage to squeeze in a conversation about who their student "crush" is. Resorting to these devices on occasion may be forgivable in teen fiction. Repeating them over and over is just bad writing.
The translation is equally terrible, with poor word choice, odd phrasing, and awkward or even ungrammatical constructions. Frankly, Mark Dacascos's stilted narration suits the material quite well. He comes across as an imperfect and somewhat hesitant speaker of the English language, which in a sense seems to justify the awful writing and translation.
The story was just barely compelling enough to keep me listening. But I found myself guffawing at the writing and translation at times, and just wishing the end would come. It eventually does, but only after a long, grueling slog.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
I've loved this story since I was a teenager. I read the novel, watched the movies, and even read the Manga, which expands on the character back stories even more than the novel.<br/>I expected good things out of the audio book, but the narrator puts out a very lackluster performance. There's a big difference between narrating a story and just reading a book aloud. Disappointing, but I still recommend for the story.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
This story is a huge classic, and there are a lot of reasons why.
This is a gory and gruesome tale that looks into the role of the government, society, but most of all how we will react under pressure. We follow our lead character as he tries to stay alive and second guess the people around him, some of whom he has grown up with his entire life. Through flashbacks, we find out more about the characters, and the world that they live in.
I really enjoyed a lot of the characters, and I could sympathize with a good portion of them (even the ones that are portrayed as being a little more evil) There is huge amount of believable pressure and fear. Also a huge number of characters, I ended up writing them all down on a piece of paper and crossing them off as they died. The advantage of having so many characters is that we get to see a good number of different reactions to the same horrific set of circumstances. I found myself rooting for everyone and scared for what might happen to them.
Even the girls have some really awesome and/or scary ones in their mist! (Though the main one is a bit of a princess character :/ ) My favorite character in the entire book is the girl Takako Chigusa, and really she may be one of the favorite characters ever.
In conclusion this is a great book. I listened to it because it was a classic, but I would still listen to this again and again. Fair warning though, this is not for the fait of heart, as it does involve a LOT of bloody deaths.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful
As crazy as this will sound, if I'd known about this book as a young adult I would have become an avid reader at a mich younger age