Battle Royale – A Book I Will Read Again and Again

The first time I read this book was in 2009, which is about 2 years ago…and now I have just finished reading it for the second time. Quite fast to be reread, don’t you think? The truth is I have missed this book since last year. I wanted to read it again since last year but I have searched it everywhere in the book stores near my house and I was out of luck….all I could find is that book with similar theme, Hunger Game…a book that I vouch not to read unless everyone who had read that book also read Battle Royale. Why bother spending my time reading a book with similar theme to one of the best book I have ever read in my life!

Luck finally came last November when Nat of In Spring It Is Dawn told me that I won a $15 prize to buy any book I want. I was ecstatic when I heard that news…there’s no other book I wanted but Battle Royale…I really really really want to read it again. I felt like a lover who was told that I can finally meet my loved one. The book came on December. I was shaking out of happiness, I was literally hugging the book. I thought I can read it after I finished the book I was currently reading at that time….but the temptation was TOO high. I abandoned the book and picked Battle Royale once again. Thank you so much Nat, you’re an angel 🙂

Battle Royale is not a book with great writing style. Koushun Takami wrote in a very ordinary way, he delivered his story in a word we used daily. But the amazingness of Battle Royale does not lie on the writing style but in the powerful story that takes me to another world full of violent and distrust, but a strong friendship proves to be stronger than anything.

I am aware that I am not a great reviewer, I can’t review something as impressive as most of my blogger friends, but I am very proud on my first review of Battle Royale…I felt like that was an impressive review, one of the best review I have ever written. Maybe because I loved it so much so the words came easily (the other book review I am proud of also of books I love the most, such as The Lord of The Rings series, The Square Persimmon, etc).

A glimpse of my first review:

 I really like how Koushun Takami created all the characters with their own complex personality….it made the book not merely about sadistic murder and blood but also about how a person will handle such horrible condition. Behind all the blood, we can find great friendship and love. We can also encounter great betrayal and deceive. All I can say about this book is ‘Throw away all prejudice against this book and you’ll have a wonderful story

Battle Royale is a dystopia book where Japan had turned into The Republic of Greater East Asia, a very wealthy country so ran by a dictator. A country where everything from American Imperialist was banned. A country where Rock music was considered as illegal music. A country which was heartless enough to put several classes of third year junior high school into a killing game held every year where they had to kill their friends and be the only winner. A heartless game of distrust and betrayal.

We got to see 42 students of Third Year Class B Shiroiwa Junior High school thrown into The Program, that was how the government called the game. When I read it for the first time, I said that the story mostly revolved around Shuya Nanahara, Shogo Kawada, Noriko Nakagawa, Kazuo Kiriyama, Mitsuko Souma, Shinji Mimura and Hiroki Sugimura because they played the biggest part of the story…But now that I have read it for the second time, I realized more how Koushun Takami had brilliantly created a class full of students with different personalities. He managed to let us know all 42 students even though they only appeared in one chapter. He didn’t let any even 1 student died unnoticed or personality unknown. He made sure that we know what kind of person that student was and how tragic or silly his/her death was. I felt like I was running around in that island with those 42 students.

There was student who promised to protect his best friend’s crush till the end, there were students who chose to die together with their lover rather than joining the game, there were students who simply decide to play the game and be merciless, there were students who tried to find a way out of the island, there was student who ran around the island just to find the girl he liked, each and every one of them had something special about them. Like I said before, none of the student was forgotten.

You might wonder why did the government hold such cruel game? The answer is something you have to find by reading the book. All I can say is Koushun Takami merely changed nowadays situation into an extreme story.

The moment I finished the book, I want to read it again….if the book was not a book with almost 600 pages with small fonts, I might have read it again. One thing for sure I know I will read it again in the future, probably another 2 years from now 😉

The book that I got from Nat was different to what I read the first time, at that time I borrowed it from library. This edition has foreword by Max Allan Collins that intrigued me to write about book and movie adaptation and afterword by Kinji Fukasaka and Koushun Takami.

I loved reading Koushun Takami’s interview, I found out that he and I have the same favorite author (maybe that’s why I love this book so much)

As for King, and I apologize for so commonplace an observation, I was astonished by the skill of his storytelling – no, rather, I became so engrossed that I kept on reading, unaware of my astonishment.

I felt the same way as Takami toward Stephen King, he is not the best write in the world but he sure is the best story teller I know. Takami also confessed that some parts of his story were inspired by Shawshank Redemption, The Body and Needful Things. The name Shiroiwa is a direct translation of Castle Rock (a town often used by King).

No wonder King praised this book as:

…an insanely entertaining pulp riff…

Book Details:

Title: Battle Royale
Author: Koushun Takami
Language: English (Original: Japanese, translated by Yuji Oniki)
Pages: 576 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media,LLC
Challenge: Japanese Literature Challenge 5
My first Review: Battle Royale
My Movie Review: Battle Royale – The Movie


  1. I respect that you love this book so much Nov, but every generation there a similar storyline is bound to come up and I don’t think one can immediately say the author is simply plagiarizing. I enjoy reading Hunger Games, it’s not the best thing I’ve ever read but I think it’s quite good. I know you’re gonna disagree w/ me on this one so we’ll just simply agree to disagree 😀

    1. I am not going to say whether Hunger Game is a good book or bad book…I simply refuse to read it no matter what people said. My feeling toward that book is similar to my feeling toward remake (movie), I simply refuse to watch remake (unless the actor is my dear Cillian, tho I wish Cillian will NEVER play any remake).

      I am glad you like the book Ruth, a lot of people like that book. If I do not love Battle Royale too much, I might read it too…but alas my love is too big to be shared with other book with similar story.

  2. I would be interested in reading the book. I wonder if you have seen the movie Novia? I definitely can’t see how The Hunger Games can come remotely near that.

    1. I have seen the movie, It was the reason why I started my post called Musing on Book and Movie: No Movie is Greater Than The Book. Battle Royale movie is not even close to the greatness of the book. They changed the basic principle of the book. For me,the movie no longer has the same meaning as the book.

      Aha!! I don’t need to read Hunger Game to know how similar they are,just by reading the blurb I can tell the similarity….it’s NOT exactly the same but similar.

      Battle Royale:

      In an alternative future Japan, junior high students are forced to fight to the death! L to R (Western Style). Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing

      Hunger Game:

      In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

      And here’s a review from someone who had read both: (by Tatiana)

      I have to admit, similarities between these two books are undeniable. They both are based on the same idea of teenagers forced to participate in a deadly game where only one person wins and lives. However at the same time these books are completely different. I believe you can enjoy and appreciate them both equally. If “Hunger Games” is more of a personal story of survival from the POV of just one “player,” “Battle Royale” is a complex story which follows all participants of the game. It is much more brutal, violent, and bloody than “Hunger Games.” The book explores what makes regular kids turn on each other, what in their pasts allows them to commit the ultimate crime or what stops them from participating in the killing game altogether.

  3. My heart began pounding when I saw the title of your post! I haven’t moved on with the book at all. One of the best reads, I’d agree. The only thing I’d hate about it is that girl, Noriko.

    Now about Hunger Games, I’ve read it after I had already read Battle Royale. Of course I had the initial bias for Battle Royale, but it didn’t last much long when I got hooked to Hunger Games as well.

    I highly recommend it! They are in fact very different stories. For psychotic gore, go for Battle Royale. For satiric political theme, go for Hunger Games. I think for this consideration I would prefer Hunger Games over Battle Royale.

    Oh, give Hunger Games a chance. 😀

    1. Ah yes, Noriko is too weak. My favorite female character is Chigusa, she is a girl with style and very independent.

      Hehe since I don’t really like political story and I like story with many characters than focusing on one character…I think I will enjoy Battle Royale more….that is if I ever read Hunger Game.
      I don’t know when I will give that book a chance….maybe one day.

  4. I enjoy writers that allow you to know each character..even in a small way, so that their lives have an effect on the story. 😀 TY Nov

    1. Me too!!! 🙂
      I always admire such author. It’s like Stephen King’s book, Under The Dome…he manages to tell the story of half the citizen of the town that got locked inside the dome.
      This kinda story is what I consider as rich story.

  5. You really love it and I would be interested to read it but as you know I already have The Hunger Games and this is the year in which I do not want to buy many books…
    I liked that you added Tatiana’s quote in your comment, it gives a good idea of the difference and similarity.

    1. Yes I do love it so much…it is in my list of all time favorite books. But, I do understand when some people don’t like it because it’s not a book for everyone. When you finally read it, I hope you like it…if not, I completely understand.

      Me too…I will try to read all the books on my shelf before buying new ones.

  6. Caroline pointed me in your direction – thanks for sharing your love for Battle Royale. I am a fan of The Hunger Games, which obly makes me MORE interested in reading Battle Royale. I’m glad to know the two stories are different while sharing similarities – but your passion for Battle Royale has me super intrigued. I’m going to begin looking for it!

    1. Hi Tuulenhaiven. I read a lot of Hunger Game reader who enjoys Battle Royale. I hope you’ll like Battle Royale too.

      I am planning to read Lord of the Flies this year. as it was said to be the basic of Battle Royale.

  7. Hahaha!! I can actually picture you Novia, the day the book arrived, hugging it and trembling with excitement. That is just soooo you. (Me too.. You should hear me squeal with joy when a DVD I’ve really been wanting shows up in the mail…. Hehehe!!) 🙂

    I’ve never read this book, but I did see the movie made from it. That was so grim and violent!! It is hard to imagine a world pushed to those extremes… but it has happened before in History, so it is a valid warning to people about letting things ever reach those dark excesses.

    I think you are right that “Hunger Games” seems only a pale imitation intended for a teen audience, still the Trailer looks interesting so I’ll probably see the movie when it comes out.

    1. Hahaha…yeah I think I often overreacted to my favorite things 😉
      I was so concern that the book hadn’t reached me after almost a month and I asked Nat about it and suddenly the book showed up….whuaaa I was so excited. I believe you and I are two peas in the same pot 😉

      Aha!! the book is way cooler than the movie. The movie gives invalid reason why the government is doing that cruel game…the book has more significant reason. The movie didn’t do justice for the book, that’s why I put it in Amazing book Bad Adaptation list when I shared my musing on Movie based on Books,it’s here if you want to read it > here.

      I’ll probably see the movie when TV decides to show it…or maybe someone lend me the DVD.

  8. Hi Novia, lovely post. Your passion really comes across in your writing. I remember watching the film adaption of battle Royale during University. It wasn’t an easy film to watch and given the choice I’m not sure i would watch it again but I certainly appreciate what you say about the virtues of the friendship and loyalty coming across strongly in the story. It is a very powerful movie and sounds like a very powerful book. I’m sure you’re already aware of this but if you have read it already you should check out Castor’s post on The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, which deals with the difficulties involved in adapted popular fiction.

    1. Thank you so much Ronan 🙂
      I guess when I love something, I tend to show it off too much. I am the kind of person who is always transparent in loving or hating something.
      Aw Ronan…you should really read the book,the movie didn’t do justice for the book (I should have linked my movie review here, I will edit my post soon). The book is more powerful than the movie.
      Thank you for the link, I missed a lot of posts near new year.I actually had written similar post with wide range of movie,it was called No Movie is Greater than The Book

  9. You’re very welcome, Novia! I’m so glad I could give you a book you love so much. 🙂
    I’m one of the few people who didn’t really care for the Hunger Games trilogy and much prefer Battle Royale. For me, Battle Royale is just a much deeper, psychological, and a more interesting story all round. 😉

    1. I don’t know if you notice it or not….but you always gave me things I love so much, first was One Piece related items and now this 🙂 I love you Nat :hug:
      I am glad to hear that Nat…I am not going to say Hunger Game is bad book but….I am just like you,I just don’t care about that book. Battle Royale already has everything I wanted from a book.

  10. ha! hi Nov! 🙂

    your intense distaste for The Hunger Games makes me want to read your Battle Royale even more! I like the Hunger Games quite a bit! ha 🙂

    Did they ever make a movie for Battle Royale? If not, maybe you may watch The Hunger Games and replace the characters in your mind with the characters from Battle Royale. maybe!

    -T (previously TheScarletSp1der)

    1. I don’t think I distaste Hunger Game, I just don’t want to read it….it’s different, right??
      Well…you should try T, a lot of people who read both prefer Battle Royale…tho some still prefer HG. I am curious which side will you be 😉

      Actually there’s Battle Royale the movie which I consider as Great Book Bad Movie (sharing the same spot with The Shining). hahaha nice try, but no thanks for the movie as well. I have so little time to have fun and I better use it to watch something I really want to see.

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