27 August 2010

Battle Royale (Koushun Takami)

And we're back!

Where have we been you might ask? Well I've been working, studying, and sometimes working and studying at the same time. Alcott has been flitting around Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Spain... basically she has had a much more exciting few months than me.

To ease myself back into this whole blogging thing (a post which
I may or may not have decided to write because there is laundry to be done) (and a room to be tidied). Anyway. I also thought I would share with you what I think is the most violent book I have ever read. What fun!

A little while ago I reviewed The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I'm sure you know it. Kids put in battle arena, given a few weapons, told to kill each other. Well I was raving about this book to a reader friend, who said "that sounds just like this Japanese novel I read, you should read Battle Royale". I promptly forgot this recommendation, read it a year later and proceeded to tell the same friend "You know, you'd really like this book Battle Royale".

Anyway, Battle Royale is indeed remarkably similar to The Hunger Games. Set in a dystopian future, where to keep the population in control, some kind of teenager-killing-teenager scenario is implemented. In Battle Royale it is called The Program, and each year a grade nine class is randomly selected to take part. Told they are going on an excursion, their bus is filled with sleeping gas and when the students awake, they have been fitted with metal collars. Metal collars that will explode for a variety of reasons. And then the men running the program pulls their teacher's head out of a sack he is carrying around. And a couple of students are shot before the game even starts. And then the students are each given a weapon (ranging from a machine gun to a banjo to a fork) and told to kill each other. And then they do.

And unlike in the Hunger Games, where teenagers kill teenagers in a very non-graphic way, Battle Royale doesn't hold back. I can't really bring myself to recount any of the violent scenes from the book, but to give you an idea of how affected I was, I couldn't read this book while I was eating as more often than not, something was going to make me feel ill.

My Battle Royale ramblings lead me to ask you this - what books have had induced a strong physical reaction in you? I'm not talking crying at the end of Goodnight Mister Tom (which I do), I am talking putting the book down before you're sick.

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