Sep 19, 2008

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Battle Royale

Before we start, I have to say that I dig the cover of this novel particularly. Go ahead and click on it and take a look, see for yourself. A little overly clever, but enjoyable.

First of all, it's just interesting to read a novel set in a fascist fictional Japan. Mostly, I've been exposed to images of such possibilities set in America or England. Interestingly, all the modern ones seem to have one thing in common, Battle Royale included - extremist, dictatorial, oppressive governments don't like rock'n'roll. No siree, Big Brother does not rock out. Not even Big Brother-san.

Someone over on goodreads recently described it as "essentially a retelling of lord of the flies, only far more violent". I have to say, I think that completely misses the point. It's more of a complete reversal of LotF. In one, you have a group of kids that are left without any adult guidance who wind up turning on each other because of that lack. In the other, you have a group of children who are forced by adults to turn on each other. It seems to me that Flies is saying "we are not scared enough of what our youth may do" and Royale is saying "we are too scared of what our youth may do".

All that aside, damn fun read. The ongoing death count, the weaving storylines, the vague hope that someone may escape the carnage - this is the kind of adventure I can dig into. The characterizations are a little shallow, but it's entertaining to see teen "types" run true across cultures. The jocks, the nerds, the mean girls, the pop fan. Or is that just a twist of the translation that makes them so familiar?

final thought: This was a good break from all the deep-thought, real lit, cold war and before dystopias I've been bathing in recently.


Olman Feelyus said...

I've seen the movie, but I didn't even know it came from a book. Sounds quite promising. I'll put it on my list.

downtown guy said...

Do. Not much was changed from book to movie, but I still found it worth reading. Not deep, but entertaining.

B.E. Earl said...

Same here...I've only seen the movie, and I really enjoyed it.