Battle Royale by Kosushun Takami

Molly Cahill

In “Battle Royale,” Koushun Takami writes in gruesome detail of a fantasy Japan called The Republic of Greater East Asia. The totalitarian government regularly holds a televised death match known as “Battle Experiment No. 68 Program.” Several times a year, “The Program” randomly selects a class of ninth-graders and drops them off on a deserted island where they are instructed to kill each other until only one remains. Each student is provided with a pack that contains: a map, water, food and a weapon. They are also fit with exploding collars that are set to go off if no one dies in a 24-hour period or if they wander into a forbidden zone.

While the premise of the book is hard to believe (How could any nation keep such a thing secret for so long?) it is the characterization that makes this novel such an amazing read. By the end you feel as though you might have known these students yourself. Their reactions are believable as the mentality of middle school kids forced to kill their classmates or die themselves. It is at times hard to get past how blithely some topics such as rape are mentioned. The students seem to be the only characters capable of expressing normal human emotion as the majority of adults are too jaded. The style of writing flows well and Takami certainly doesn’t hold any punches. Overall, worth reading, but only if you’ve got a strong stomach.

Contact Molly Cahill at [email protected].