The Hunger Games and Battle Royale are similar. This stems from the fact that many people have been arguing that they are the same book and that Suzanne Collins ripped off the idea and yadda yadda blah blah blah. Those people clearly did not read either book very well. The only real similarity is the story idea of teens fighting each other to the death. That's it. It's like saying Harry Potter and Hex Hall are the same story because they both have special schools for special kids. It's a little ridiculous if you ask me. I think both The Hunger Games and Battle Royale were amazing stories and definitely worth the read. I think it really depends on what you want out of your stories to determine which book you should read.
The Hunger Games, could have been called The Life and Times of Katniss Everdeen, since she is our main character and everything we see throughout the series revolves around her. This worked fantastically for The Hunger Games, because it made you empathize with Katniss and the suffering of not only her District but the Districts like hers. She was a voice for the people and that is what the novels are all about—The Girl Who Was On Fire and how she sparked a revolution. I loved that the very games meant to suppress a revolution, ultimately caused a revolution.
Then you have Battle Royale. A story about a class full of kids forced to kill each other or be killed by the collars around their necks. There are main characters in this novel, and it is a lot about them. You really get into everyone's head though, not just the main characters. The story talks a lot about trust and instinct and human nature. Koushun Takami examined all sorts of different reactions to the situation that these kids were thrust into. Unlike The Hunger Games, these kids knew every person they were meant to kill. They were quite unprepared about what to expect because the Battles were not televised or spoken about too much. They saw a winner emerge, but never knew all the horrors that would have to be experienced. This novel really seemed to be an examination of humans and how certain people react certain ways; how some people can find trust in another person and how some may trust too easily, while others may not trust anyone fully.
So no, I don't really think these books are all that similar. I think there will be people, like me, who can enjoy them both. There will be others that will only enjoy one or the other though. Some people may like the extreme violence and questions within Battle Royale, but hate the romance and gentle characters in The Hunger Games. They are two books like any other two books and should be treated as such. If you liked either of them you might enjoy Lord of the Flies too *shrugs* so really they are comparable, but not really too alike.
Agree or disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.