Is “Battle Royale” Worth the Read?

After they read the very first page, readers will refuse to put down Koushin Takami’s masterpiece, Battle Royale.

The dystopia follows a junior high school class whose members are driven to fight each other to the death in a program organized by the Republic of Greater Asia, a totalitarian Japanese government. Although completed in 1996, Battle Royale was published three years later, becoming an instant bestseller.

Only a few storytellers can build as much suspense and tension as Koushin Takami. From the opening chapters, he establishes the idea that no character is safe. As they read the novel, readers will clutch the book tightly, hoping their favorite characters will survive, despite knowing that none of them wear plot armor.

What makes Battle Royale truly succeed, however, is the characters. The group chosen to participate in the deadly program consists of 42 students, 21 boys and 21 girls. In spite of the large cast, Takami thoroughly develops all of them; the characters are not portrayed as livestock ready to be slaughtered, but young & (mostly) wide-eyed teenagers who are unfairly thrown into a mess not of their doing.

Since it first hit Japanese bookstores, Battle Royal has tremendously impacted global popular culture; the novel has been adapted into a manga, feature film, and drama. Notable filmmakers, such as Quentin Tarantino, found inspiration in the story, paving the way for several films with a similar plotline. Today, the term “battle royale” refers to a genre inspired by the novel, where members of a group are told to kill each other until there is only one survivor.

Evidently, Battle Royale is a brilliant novel, as exemplified by its enormous cultural legacy. So, if you don’t know what to read next, dive into this amazing story!

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