Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Wow, this was bad, really bad. It starts with the reason for this novel’s popularity: It consists of 98% pure violence porn: We get to witness how about 40 15-year-old classmates from junior high school brutally murder each other.

Actually, they’re more like slaughtering each other and through my reception of the text, I had the very unpleasant feeling of watching a violence-obsessed author act out his most revolting fantasies. Takami almost gleefully presents his sadistical ideas with excessive and gratuitous violence.

While I presume the novel is meant to be a commentary on societal pressures and the dehumanising effects of violence, I felt that the graphic descriptions of bloodshed and gore were used purely for shock value and did little to further the plot or develop the characters.

Speaking of which: The next percent is the characters displaying the character depth of a paramecium, a single-celled organism… Takami tries to give each of them a backstory but I struggled to keep track of them all and found that they blended together in my mind. The main characters, Shuya and Noriko, were somewhat more developed, but their “romance” felt forced and unconvincing. I never truly became invested in their story or cared about what happened to them.

I also found the writing style to be uneven and clunky at times. While some passages were well-written and evocative, most were either very simplistically or even awkwardly phrased.

The final 1% is made out of extremely naïve theories, e. g. “A bad person was simply born that way.” And that’s the maximum level of “critical thought” this novel reaches…

Despite not being the worst book I’ve ever come across, this revolting, violence-glorifying monstrosity still ranks among the top 5.

Zero stars out of five.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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