Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
For some unexplained reason I thought that Battle Royale (the movie) was done prior to Battle Royale (the novel). Apparently, the book was released a year before and I don’t remember all of the details in the movie, but it seemed pretty close to the story in the book. (With the exception of little unimportant in my opinion details.)
My knowledge about the theme of the book started about 8 years ago when I first watched the movie Battle Royale. It was powerful and quite original, and I was happy to have had such experience. Then I forgot all about it, until last year when I picked up The Hunger Games trilogy and then it all came back to me. For some time I couldn’t understand why the storyline was so familiar, until I realized that it reminded me of the Battle Royale. Later on, reading some reviews and articles I found out that there is a book and ever since then I wanted to read it.
Well, I finally did, and I don’t even know what to say. It was terribly close to what I remember about the movie, and all I wanted to do is—compare one to the other. It was a bit hard to remember all the names and who’s who for characters that were merely mentioned. The detailed explanations or ‘student’ numbers helped quite a lot, as I didn’t feel like scrolling back and forth between the first pages and my current location to find out the relations of the characters mentioned to the main characters.
All-in-all I did like the book: the topic itself is so complex, I was glad the structure of the book was as simple as it gets. And easy read, you’d say… I think such language allows you to imagine and have your own experience instead of dragging you through the plot.
There were a few things I absolutely adored in the book:
Hiroki Sugimura’s quest to find Kayoko Kotohiki. For almost full duration of the book he’s been walking across the island in search for Kayoko and all he has to aid him in his search was a tracking devise which he used to check each and every ‘dot’ on his screen. The dots for the most part were his dead classmates, but fortunately not her, not Kayoko. And when he finally found her, the girl was so scared she shot him:
He closed his eyes again and said, “It’s all right.” He was smiling. He looked content. “I was going to die soon anyway.”
Kayoko then finally noticed he had another wound on his side, soaked in liquid that wasn’t rain.
“So…go now. Please.”
Kayoko sobbed convulsively and touched his neck gently. “Let’s go together. Okay? Stand.”
Hiroki opened his eyes and looked at her. He seemed to be smiling. “Forget about me,” he said. “I’m just glad I got to see you.”
“What?” Kayoko opened her tear-stained eyes wide. What? What did you just say? “What…what do you mean…” Her voice was trembling.
Hiroki exhaled deeply, as if to bear the pain, or maybe it was a long sigh. “If I tell you, will you go?”
“What? I don’t get it. What do you mean?”
Hiroki said without hesitating, “I love you, Kotohiki. I’ve loved you for a real long time.”
Kayoko once again didn’t understand Hiroki. What’s he talking about?
Hiroki continued. He was looking up at the sky raining down on them. “That’s all I wanted to tell you. Now…go.”
Kayoko then uttered, “But I thought…you and Takako…”
Hiroki looked into her eyes again. He said, “You’re the one.”
And a little bit later:
“It’s all right,” Hiroki said kindly. He closed his eyes slowly. “Kayoko…” he called her by her first name as if it were a precious treasure. It was probably the first time he had ever called her by her first name. “I don’t mind at all… dying because of you. So please, please go. Or else…”
In all the horror of the situation I didn’t expect that to happen. But, I guess, it gave a nice lyric side to the book. (I had to sit and weep over such unfortunate circumstances. Oh, I wish it could have ended differently…)
Another one of such sweet, romantic moments was stretched throughout the book itself—Shuya Nanahara’s feelings were growing stronger and deeper with each passing hour, while he was working hard on keeping Noriko Nakagawa alive, and surviving the game of course. (Can you imagine the peer pressure of that? Even if you manage to survive and escape, you cannot ever be safe again. At least not in you own country. An you’re only 15 years old.) He started with filing responsible to protect her in place of his best friend—Yoshitoki Kuninobu, later he discovered that he liked her too, and he had learned to care for her more than he thought could be possible in such circumstances. I found it very romantic that people are shown to find/recognize love at a time like this, in the middle of constant, indescribable horror, that people can learn to care for each other no matter what, no matter how long they have left to do it, that they feel and need to do it and they simply do… CARE