In Which The Next Person To Say Hunger Games is Better Gets a Kick in the Head


Battle Royale

Koushun Takami

You might be tempted to blame my violent threat on the book, but it would be a faulty assumption. I've always been like this.


I did not watch the movie. I'm kind of not a fan of Japanese films because the actors tend to be overwrought. They seem to scream and contort over the smallest things. It's probably just me, though. I'm sure there are great Japanese films. I'm just not the right person to appreciate them, I guess.

(The only Japanese movie I like is the live action Rurouni Kenshin movie, which is absolutely brilliant. Oh wait, I also like Ran.)

I was interested in the book, though.

The premise is very interesting, obviously. You have a class of fifteen-year-olds, all slightly damaged in some way, and they have one mission: kill each other.

I'm not going to belabor things by going into a detailed synopsis. Most people will already understand. It's an island, you have kids, they are armed. It's kill or be killed.

Hence the comparison to The Hunger Games.

Now I do have to say I read the trilogy. I'm not what you would call a fan, but I think the books are okay. They're not ground-breaking or anything, but they didn't try to break my brain like Twilight did.

In fact, I think the books got better as they progressed.

There are certain scenes that were really done beautifully, and I do think the books are worth reading. My main beef with the trilogy is Katniss, because her narration tends to be so detached that even when she tells the reader how remorseful she is about killing people, it sounds hollow.

It's the writing style that threw me off, really.

When you get to Katniss' internal monologues, you get a very detailed explanation of what she feels. It is completely irritating. You know how they say writers should show rather than tell? That. She keeps telling us how she feels that in time it feels like she's just saying so and we don't get the vibe that she's actually feeling these emotions she's telling us about.

That's where Battle Royale trumps the Hunger Games trilogy.

It has a lot more characters, but not one of them seems expendable. They're not just cannon fodder. Some die earlier than the others, true, but each one manages to leave some sort of mark on the reader. You remember them, even if it's just some small detail.

Nothing is glorified.

It's brutal. It's dirty. It's very effective.

It's got a lot of twists and turns, but it all boils down to human nature at its worst – and at its finest.

Most people think the book is all about the violence. It's not. It's about the reality of human nature, of fear, and of dignity.

Plus, any book that quotes Cui Jian is an absolute winner for me.

So I don't understand how some people can claim that the Hunger Games trilogy is better because it's less violent. They say Battle Royale is too gory.

A violent fight to the death involving an entire class of teenagers isn't exactly going to be rainbows and cotton candy, you know.

But what really matters is that when everything is said and done, the characters in Hunger Games are just that – characters.

With Battle Royale you take a minute to say a silent prayer for every single one of them.



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