Thursday, February 24, 2005

cup 88: Battle Royale

Originally uploaded by matt_leclair.
Where: Orono, livingroom
When: 8am, Feb 24, 2005
Who: Dot & Dash
Coffee: Avalon Organic Italian Roast
Mood: tense

The book is Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, and on this, a day of "vacation" I am lounging around drinking coffee. The book is gripping, to say the least. The premise is simple. 42 middle-schoolers are put on an island and forced to kill each other until only one remains. Reading it is like, well, have you ever seen the old style fans with the metal blades and the screens that have such wide open gaps that you can fit your whole hand through it? And there's something about it that makes you want to stick your hand in, just to see if it really would hurt, or would really cut your fingers off. You know it would, but it is just hard to believe. The fan at full speed is just a blur, a solid disk, not blades at all... Open the book is like sticking your hand in a fan and believing it isn't going to hurt. You know that everyone you care about is going to die, but you have to keep reading. The first few are like potato chips. None of the characters who die have been around long enough to really care about, and the descriptions of their violent deaths are graphic and entertaining. I found myself saying, "Okay, I'll just read until the next kid dies, and then I'll get busy." But then after the first 20 or so kids die, I'm at a point where it is painful to continue, where there are only 2 kids left who I actually want to see dead, and the rest I want to see miraculously escape and live happily ever after. That's not going to happen, though.

It certainly isn't a book I'd recommend to just anybody, but if you like your entertainment disturbing and thought provoking, a la A Clockwork Orange and Lord of the Flies, this book fits the bill. Though neither of those can hold a candle to the grand guignol of Battle Royale.

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