Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (A great cover, but why is there a rifle and why is there just one boy and one girl?)
Publication Date: November 17, 2009
Publisher: Haika Soru
Page Count: 608 p.
Add it: Goodreads
No one is safe from the government. When these students wake up in a classroom, it's not where they are supposed to be. Then they find out the awful truth. They are in the Program. A game designed by the government that pits a class of students against each other. They must kill to survive and only one person can come out the winner. No one knows who they can trust in this twisted world they are thrown into. Many panic thinking everyone is out to get them, and some simply don't have the ability to survive on their own. Then there is Shuya. He doesn't want to be part of this messed up game. He doesn't want to kill his classmates. So he has to trust. He wants to try to save as many as he can, but the battle might be too complicated. Each of the students just want to survive. Some are willing to play the game though and others might not get a chance at all.
Wow this novel was amazing. I know in the past I have talked about my dislike 3rd person omniscient narration, but this book was perfect. The narration allowed you insight into each of the characters, which allowed you to understand what caused them to react the way they do throughout the Battle Royale. I wasn't sure if I could stomach the novel in the beginning; Sakamochi was brutal. The violence didn't get less descriptive, but maybe it was less shocking, or maybe I just grew used to the horrors. I really love this novel though. One thing that was tricky for me in reading this was the character names. I'm not Japanese, so it was a little tricky trying to keep the names straight. There were certain characters whose names I got down, like Kazuo and Noriko, but some of the others were a bit trickier. I really loved how well Kazuo was written though. He was by far the scariest person I have ever had the liberty to read about. Each of the characters though were nicely outlined. Some of them didn't get much book time, but they each made an impression. There were enough shocking twists, that I was quite uncertain where the book was heading. There was one revelation that I had guessed at early on, because apparently I pay better attention to the facts than let's say Shogo Nakagawa does. Regardless it was an interesting plot point that I was glad to have. I could feel the panic of the kids in this situation. I was feeling some of that nervous energy never quite knowing who could be trusted and who would just kill you in the end. I think this is the perfect alternative to The Lord of the Flies, kids might be able to relate to this extreme situation better than to kids on an island. In this story the kids had to kill or be killed and they all had to make a choice of what their action would be. Some took matters into their own hands and killed themselves, some started killing and some tried to find another alternative. This was a very insightful story into the minds of a group of people. It was interesting reading about all the different situations and reactions each of the kids had. If you have a stomach for some intense violence, I don't think I can recommend this more highly. There was never a dull moment and I could not put this book down.
First Line (of actual story):
"As the bus entered the prefectural capital of Takamatsu, garden suburbs transformed into city streets of multicolored neon, headlights of oncoming cars, and the checkered lights of office buildings."
"YOU MUST HAVE FAITH IN THE COSMIC LIGHT."
"His face was split down the middles, left and right out of alignment like a peanut."