Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm a huge fan of The Hunger Games, books and movies both - especially the movies. But for this very similar piece of dystopian, I spent years sleeping on it, until a Twitter mutual of mine convinced me I should try all the Battle Royale media there was - book, manga, movie. So I started with the book and, while I still enjoy The Hunger Games more, Battle Royale presents a very chilling alternate world, a dystopian Japan of the late 90s where teenagers are selected to go to an island and fight to the death, all in the name of a government program designed for national security or something. While the book itself is very long, and often protracted with white noise, it's still an addictive, fast-paced read that you think represents a world removed from ours, except maybe not. Maybe, especially now that fascism (the very evil this book's government delivers better than any other, and very insidiously too) lurks at virtually every corner in today's society.
My only real complaint about the book is that it has an open ending, promising a continuation that would've nicely paralleled the likes of Catching Fire and Mockingjay, but so far, nearly twenty years down the line, Koushun Takami hasn't announced any sequels. Though at least there's the manga, which, as I understand it, further fleshes out the world beyond the confines of this one book. I've got the manga ready to read very soon - at least, the first two volumes of it. Hopefully it'll live up to that promise.
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