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Battle Royale: The Novel Haika Soru 2nd edition Koushun Takami


24th April 2013 Literature & Fiction 45 Comments

In an alternative future Japan, junior high students are forced to fight to the death! L to R (Western Style). Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan–where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller–Battle Royale is a Lord of the Fliesfor the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world. Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available for the first time in the English language. A group of high school students are taken to small isolated island and forced to fight each other until only one remains alive! If they break the rules a special collar blows their heads off. Koushun Takami’s brutal, high-octane thriller is told in breathless. blow-by-blow fashion. Battle Royale is a contemporary Japanese pulp classic now available for the first time in English.

Koushun Takami was borin in 1969 in Amagasaki near Osaka and grew up in Kagawa Prefecture of Shikoku, where he currently resides. After Graduating from Osaka University with a degree in literature, he dropped out of Nihon University’s liberal arts correspondence school. From 1991 to 1996 he worked for the prefectural news company Shikoku Shinbun. Battle Royale, completed after Takami left the news company, was a finalist for the Kadokawa Mystery Prize, but ulimately lost due to the controversy the novel’s content provoked among juruy members. With its publication in Japan in 1999, Battle Royale received widespread support from young readers and became a best seller. in 2000. ot was adapted as a manga and made into a popular feature film.

Battle Royale: The Novel










  • 45 responses to "Battle Royale: The Novel Haika Soru 2nd edition Koushun Takami"

  • BayAreaNative
    3:27 on April 24th, 2013
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    Wow. I went into this book knowing the premise and expecting an ultraviolent action story featuring characters that I didn’t really like getting killed at every turn like some kind of slasher flick. The violence did not disappoint, but I also got a strong, bittersweet story with an ensemble cast of really great characters, many of whom I ended up actually caring for.

    If you haven’t read the book, the story centers on a class of Japanese teenagers who are taken to a deserted island by agents of their fascist government and told that they have to kill each other until only one of them is left alive. This is not a story about kids being left without authority figures, it is a story about how kids respond when authority tells them to do something horrible. Some of them try to resist and escape. Some try to hide. Some of them throw themselves into the game and viciously hunt down people who were their friends just a couple of days ago.

    The characters are the highlight of the book. Some of them are realistic enough to be your friends in high school. Some are so outrageous that they seem to have walked off the pages of a Japanese comic. But all of them are interesting. They get to you, which makes you care about their plight. I found myself cheering for some of them. I was thinking, “No! Don’t trust her! She’s got a knife and she’s going to kill you! Run away!” Or, “Don’t freak out! He’s a good guy, you can trust him!” But fear and suspicion drives the characters in the story, and they don’t make the right choices all the time. They are killed off by the dozens, and every single death is shown to the reader. And they all matter. Some of them you feel so sad for. I was touched when a couple innocent young lovers found a sad way to escape the game, or when a cool guy went through hell trying to reach the girl he loved and she had no idea that he felt that way so she didn’t know if she could trust him. And then you find out the whole awful past of a really bad character all at once and suddenly you understand exactly why someone could do the terrible things she did. One of my favorite characters only shows up for a few pages, but you get a glimpse into a mind that has totally checked out and retreated into fantasy to deal with this impossible situation. And you ask yourself, is it just the fact that she’s thrown into this, or was she detached from reality all along? You will be asking yourself that a lot about the characters. Was this person always this way, or did the game change them? And the characters are asking themselves the same questions all along. Can I trust this person? She was never a good person in school. Or, he’s my friend, of course I can trust him! And sometimes they are right and sometimes they are very wrong.

    I read through this book in practically one sitting, I was so enthralled. It will touch your heart, but it’s not for the faint of heart. It is gory and unrelenting, but also romantic and beautiful. It is also darkly funny in places, so if you like your humor black you will appreciate some of the situations in the story, as well as the satirical aspects of the work. If you can handle it, there’s something for everyone here. Humor, thrills, a lot of sadness, as well as happiness, hope, and something very touching and bittersweet.

    Highly recommended.

  • Debbie
    4:44 on April 24th, 2013
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    If you have ever wanted to read a book purely for the sake of enjoyment, then “The Running Man” is definately for you. Written by King in his early days, this work displays all of the author’s talents outside of those involving horror to create a story that is impossible to put down, and prone to numerous re-readings, especially because of its size (just over 200 pp). Just to warn you, this book has NOTHING to do with the motion picture that starred good ‘ol Arnold quite a few years back. If the movie did have anything to do with this book,…well, let’s just say that it would have been much, much better. The story revolves around one of King’s simplest but best literaty characters, Ben Richards, who exists in a futuristic world of disease, capitalism and the all-important “free-vee” that has brainwashed the planet and caused massive seperation in the classes. In order to save his wife and young daughter from a terrible fate, Richards enters the free-vee’s most popular game-show, The Running Man, where he voluntarily becomes the most wanted man on earth in order to survive 30 days and receive his billion dollar prize. ANYBODY is capable of turing him in, and trust me, this element alone adds to the story in such a way that causes the pace becomes frantic and the excitement to reach a fever-pitch numerous times throughout the story. Whether or not you a King fan, this book is a DEFINATE MUST-READ. If you want to read a book for yourself and just for kicks, than look no further. Read “The Running Man!”

  • NoScriptEvah
    6:47 on April 24th, 2013
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    This revised English translation of Koushun Takami’s spectacular debut novel could not come at a better time. It has been out of print from VIZ for a few years now, but their new Haikasoru imprint is ideal for bringing it back. This “notorious, high-octane thriller,” presents a gripping story that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It is a simple story. A group of 42 high-school students are taken to an evacuated island, given weapons and a time limit, and forced to kill each other until only one of them is left standing.

    First off, why is this a must-buy?

    1. The translation has been improved. The first edition was rife with typographical errors, and more than once a character would be addressed with another’s name. I asked the Haikasoru editor personally, and he said the book received a line-by-line edit, so this improved, tidied translation is something to be excited about.

    2. A 22-page afterword by author Koushun Takami! This will be “his longest published work since the novel itself,” according to the Haikasoru website. His own opinion on the cult status of his own creation is something no fan should miss.

    3. A new forward to the novel by Max Allan Collins. The prolific Road to Perdition writer knows a thing or two about good fiction, and there can never be too many essays about good novels by good novelists.

    4. Last but not least, an interview with the director of the first Battle Royale film, Kinji Fukasaku. Unfortunately, Fukasaku died in 2003, so this will be an old interview, published in English for the first time. It will be interesting to know the opinions of this master director, who so perfectly adapted a film for a much younger generation than his own.

    It is often said that the best fiction does not provide answers, but rather asks questions. That is PRECISELY what this book does. When one reads it, one inevitably asks, “What would I do in this situation?” The simple moral dilemma presented in this book will lead not just to introspection, but to some fun, speculative conversations with friends and family. I first read the book six years ago. After all this time, it still gets brought up in conversation, and it is a testament to the strength of the story that I am still so excited today for this new edition. The book doesn’t just excel as a conversation-starter, however. Attached to the simple conflict of the story is a very, very gripping narrative with living, breathing characters. While the psychological examination of a few characters drives the story along the most of the way, the reader is given glimpses into the minds of all 42 students. Far from being confusing, this actually draws the reader further into the story.

    New words by the author himself, an interview with the director of the film, and a forward by a modern master of fiction are three reasons that could, individually, motivate one to pick up this second edition of Battle Royale. What makes this purchase a necessity for the fan or new reader, however, is all of this packaged with a revised translation. Once again, if you are a fan of the book, the manga, or the films, this book will prove a good excuse to reacquaint yourself with the franchise.

    Personally, I maintain that the novel itself is the best way to experience the story. I believe the author feels that the manga is the best way. Undoubtedly, some would side with the films. Regardless, none of them are anything less than entertaining. If you are a fan of Battle Royale, pick this up, it will be worth it.

    If you aren’t a fan yet, this is, in my opinion, the best place to start.

  • Ricky Slade
    9:41 on April 24th, 2013
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    ‘Battle Royale’ is an excellent Japanese novel that is both gripping and original. I won’t describe the storyline as the amazon page has a pretty good synopsis. I will say that from the first page you will be hooked and you will find yourself returning to this book at every free moment to see how the story develops. It is a simple premise, superbly executed (excuse the pun!) and you will become completely immersed in the mindsets of the various characters and how they behave. This book, like the film, is deemed controversial and yet I can’t see any real reason why. It is a violent novel, but no more so than others out there, and it has a great many redeeming qualities compared to those other pulp fiction horror books. The translation is very good, so much so that you barely realise you are reading a translation at all, the ultimate goal I would have thought. This book is so easy to read that the 613 pages will fly by in no time at all. The ending, considering the subject matter, manages to leave you satisfied and with an adrenaline rush as well. One of the better modern fiction books i’ve read in a while and well worth a read.

    Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.

  • corina
    11:17 on April 24th, 2013
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    It is the year 2025, TV is truly the opiate of the people, and society is divided sharply between the haves and the have-nots. Ben Richards’ family is in the latter group. He’s been unfairly blacklisted and his wife has had to resort to hooking to pay the bills. Meanwhile, his baby daughter lies ill with the flu – perfectly treatable if only they could afford it. Desperate and at the end of his rope, Richards opts to participate in a game show called “The Running Man.” He is to become the quarry in a deadly hunt that will last no more than thirty days. For each day he successfully evades his pursuers, his family earns a large sum of money.

    No one has ever lasted more than eight days.

    The games network, of course, hardly plays fair. The rules require Ben to periodically mail in videos, thereby running the risk of giving his location away. And rewards are given for any information leading to his apprehension, so Richards is also playing against a bored and bloodthirsty public — in other words, everyone. The ongoing hunt is very suspenseful, but it’s when Richards finally confronts his true nemesis that things get really interesting.

    As I was reading I couldn’t help thinking that this story was ready-made for film. It moves along at a rapid pace, especially once the game is underway. It’s not simplistic, but neither is it complicated enough that it should require much tampering. (I’ve not yet seen the movie, but from what I have heard they somehow dropped the ball. Too bad.)

    The concept of reality TV probably seemed outrageous or at least far-fetched in 1982, when The Running Man first appeared. Now it seems disturbingly prescient. Though the book belongs in the science fiction genre, it is more frightening than many of his horror stories. One warning about this edition: the story is prefaced by an introduction lifted from the earlier Bachman Books publication, and for some reason King gives away the ending in it. Maybe it’s an editing oversight. In any case, save it until you’ve read the book. It will allow you a more powerful reading experience.

  • Jan Simmonds
    12:35 on April 24th, 2013
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    The Running Man is a quick and exciting read – nonstop action will keep you turning the pages. In 2025, reality television dominates the airwaves, putting health and even lives at stake. King’s vision in 1982 is uncomfortably close to the current state of entertainment media. It’s more unsettling to read today than back in the early eighties.

    For a Stephen King novel, The Running Man is unusually concise and not too gory. He describes only what’s necessary to sketch out a bleak future. Unfortunately, this is also why his characters suffer a bit. The hero has but one motivation (to stay alive) and his feelings aren’t really discussed. However, as a plot-driven story, it’s understandable that character development takes a back seat.

    The Running Man is designed to thrill and chill! Recommended for any fan of science fiction and action movies!

  • Santa Claus
    14:03 on April 24th, 2013
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    The future is much different from the time we live in now. Jobless people are glued to their Free-Vee’s. The only means for entertainment are “The Games”. “From “Treadmill to bucks” and “Climbing for Dollars” to the sadistic “Running Man”! Benjamin Richards is out of work. His infant daughter is sick and his family is running out of money. Richards resorts to “The Games” to pay for his family. Ben goes to “The Games” building where he is assigned to “THE RUNNING MAN”. Here he meets Killian, the owner of “The Games”. Richards must run to earn money. The rules are simple. For every hour he is at large, he gets more money for his family. He can go anywhere in the nation. He can be reported by people. He must mail two 10 minute video clips of himself in daily or else he will be running for free! All of this does not get Ben down. Getting a head start, Richards runs through cities meeting new people. He gets some allies as well as enemies. From purchasing fake I.D.’s to stealing cars, Ben keeps on the run. What will happen to Ben Richards? Will he survive the Game that nobody else has? You’ll have to find out for yourself in “THE RUNNING MAN”.

  • SteveHouston
    15:58 on April 24th, 2013
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    We’ve all heard the story about the writer who booked himself into a hotel on Friday and walked out Monday morning with a complete book in his hands (it was the Bible – he’d stolen it from the room). With The Running Man, though, we have a complete novel that was written in only three days – and was published with almost no changes to that original draft. Is it even possible to write a decent novel in three days? Yes – but, obviously, The Running Man is not your typical Stephen King novel (which is a large part of the reason it was published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman). Action is the gas pedal, and King floored it from page one until the very end. Surprisingly, though, there is some pretty decent characterization of the main player – and a heavy undertone of social commentary worked into the book.

    The setting is a future America in which society has totally fractured, leaving those on the wrong side of the tracks doomed to a life of misery. Ben Richards personifies that social inequity – unable to find work because of his antiestablishment ways (for some reason, he didn’t want to keep working at a job which exposed the old family jewels to dangerous amounts of radiation leakage), he can’t take care of his family – his wife keeps turning tricks for money, and his 18-month-old daughter has the flu and will likely die without proper medicine. There is only one way out for him – the Network Games. The whole nation is fascinated with the Free-Vee game shows, shows such as Treadmill to Bucks or Swim With the Crocodiles. No show satisfies the bloodlust of the public like The Running Man does, though, and a man of Richards’ temperament is just the kind of player the show is looking for.

    The game is simple. Richards is paraded out in front of the cameras, castigated as a dangerous low-life, then turned loose on the streets. A few hours later, the show’s Hunters begin going after him. Richards wins money for every hour he can avoid capture (and by capture, I mean bloody death – broadcast live to the whole country), with bonuses for any cops killed along the way. Best of all, the viewing public can win money for themselves by turning him in if they see him. Richards proves himself a worthy contestant indeed – the Game in fact, will never be the same.

    This is one of my least favorite King novels, primarily because it’s so action-oriented. It doesn’t put down roots, and it doesn’t delve completely into the minds of any characters other than the protagonist. It is, in fact, like a weak film adaptation of a King novel – stripped of all the nuances that make King such a special writer. That’s not to way this isn’t an exciting novel because it is – that’s about all it is, though.

  • Contrarian
    17:52 on April 24th, 2013
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    This is Stephen King’s second best book, behind only The Stand. This is a superbly written action story. it has a great plot, moves quickly and draws you in to this nightmare like no one else can. the book does start out a bit slowly, but picks up tremendously, ending with one explosive (literally) ending!

    Don’t watch the movie–you know the one with Ahnold! in it, because it was terrible. the adaptation screwed up the story. i wish that someone would do a true movie adaptation of this Stephen King masterpiece.

  • Gadgets u
    19:44 on April 24th, 2013
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    If you are looking for a fast paced, edge of your seat, thriller this book is the one to pick up. I never wanted to put it down and the characters stayed in my head long after I did put it down. Unlike Hunger Games in this book you get to see what everybody is thinking and you get to experience every death. This book seems to be the grown up version of HG. In the book everybody in the chosen class knows each other and this adds a different dimension to the already intense plot. SOme characters were scary and others you just have to feel sorry for because they are scared and don’t know what to do. All in all this is a great book and I would definitely recommend it.

  • Brenda Kidd
    20:07 on April 24th, 2013
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    Imagine this: Japan is run by a totalitarian government, which occasionally selects groups of ninth graders to methodically destroy each other. On TV.

    There now, isn’t that chilling? It’s the creepy, all-too-real premise of Koushun Takami’s “Battle Royale,” an intricate novel about a parallel universe, where Japan is part of a brutal, coldhearted empire. Takami’s writing style is a bit too spare at times, but he’s still able to inspire a sense of haunting terror in his readers.

    A group of third-year high-schoolers are being transported on a bus, when they are gassed to unconsciousness, and taken to a distant island. When they awake, they have silver collars around their necks, and a man explains that they have been chosen for the Program: a military training exercise where you must kill or be killed. If you don’t play, or stay in one place too long, the collars explode.

    The teenagers slowly weed one another out, armed with weapons and random household tools, and monitored by the authorities to make sure they don’t plot. Finally the entire class is weeded down to three young adults, including Shuya Nanahara and his girlfriend Noriko. But if they refuse to kill, then they must escape the fascist nightmare… which no one has done before.

    “Battle Royale” was condemned in Japan for being so violent, and having a bunch of normal high schoolers killing each other off. So of course, it became a massive bestseller. But “Battle Royale” would have been striking even if it hadn’t been publicized like that — not only is it well-written, but it asks the question straight-out: how much will people do to survive?

    Maybe it’s also a parable about high-school life, and the struggle to succeed at all costs in Japan. However, Koushun Takami avoids any outright preaching or pondering. Instead he uncoils the tense plot, all about the kids fighting (they’re told to “show no mercy”) as they try to find a way out of their dilemma alive. Will any of them make it? There’s a little glimmer of hope, since Shuya is trying to think his way out.

    The pacing is pretty slow and intricate — considering the large cast, it’s not surprising. But the careful plot is punctuated with bursts of nasty action. And Takami writes in a spare, taut style, full of little details to add atmosphere and keep it from being TOO stark (“Under the moonlight, the bluish-white concrete pier gleamed like bone”).

    Shuya and Noriko are the main characters, and most of the novel’s action is through their eyes. These are nice, normal, everyday kids like the ones who live down the street, but suddenly they’re faced with their friends and classmates… wanting to kill them. Takami does a great job exploring their emotions as they struggle to keep their sanity and lives.

    Violent, creepy and wonderfully atmospheric, “Battle Royale” is a brilliant cult novel that takes an exaggerated look at what it takes to stay ahead. Excellent piece of work.

  • jackt
    21:43 on April 24th, 2013
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    Order the book,it was to be shipped with 2 days shipping. I just started the Prime membership. It didn’t
    arrive on the Saturday it was to be.Tracking information was no help, it could not track it at all. Possibly
    wrong information was provided or the package had never left and failed to get into the system. I chatted with
    the customer rep on line, who was helpful to make arrangement to ship it overnight. The second book arrived
    the next day by UPS as promised. The first book never showed up and who knows what had happened to that book.
    I cancelled the Prime membership, I didn’t see paying $75.00 to not getting the quick shipping as promised.
    The book itself is fine, it is my son’s school reading.

  • jason p
    23:38 on April 24th, 2013
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    I don’t think it’s written in Stephen’s normal style, which actually appeals to me because it can get old sometimes. It’s a very short, sweet, and to-the-point action thriller, instead of his usually mystery horror type novels. I haven’t seen the movie, mainly because I didn’t knwo there was one until about ten minutes ago, but I don’t think a movie could ever do the book justice. The two twists at the ending kept me reading and had me in suspense until the last page. I’m just dissapointed that it wasn’t longer. He could have fit a lot more story in and it still would have been fantastic.

    A great read, I recommend that any avid reader pick this up. Fantastic writing and a good, solid plot make this a must have.

  • Bye, weirdos
    0:39 on April 25th, 2013
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    Well the story it self was great, fast, and enjoyable. Overall the book is well worth the ten bucks it costs, and more. HOWEVER, if you have not read this book yet, do not read the forward until you have. The foreward gives away the ending, and the ending is amazing IF you haven’t read the foreward. So, ya, read the book, but read the foreward as if it were an afterward.

    OVERALL: Great read!!!

  • StareClips.com
    2:04 on April 25th, 2013
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    Citizen-neglecting government. Truth of horrible realism. Self-serving, spiteful nation. These are a few of the themes that are portrayed in Stephen King’s novel The Running Man. This action packed thriller is one of King’s best novels. There are 100 chapters in The Running Man, and at only 300 pages, there are only three pages in a chapter on average, giving this book an excellent plot and lots of action. There are many characters in the story, but the major character is Ben Richards, who enters a contest in the future in hopes of winning money to buy medicine for his daughter who has an unknown disease. The game is called ‘The Running Man’ and the game is just as it sounds. The contestants will be set loose onto the world where he will try to survive his enemy – the world. The individual who successfully kills Richards receives ten thousancd dollars from the government who runs the series of life-taking game shows including Treadmill to Bucks where heart-attack and stroke prone contestants run until they drop. Ben Richards must survive the horde for one month or die. He lays his trust on no one; doing so will get him killed. He must also survive the hunters, a trained group of people who’s jobs are to hunt down and kill the contestants. Richards will do anything, incluiding killing others to survive, if not for the money, then to spite the government. The Running Man is a great book that any thrill-seeker would enjoy. It’s a short read, only being about 300 pages, but a good one.

  • Robin Mills
    3:55 on April 25th, 2013
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    I had a plane ride across the United States so I read this as my form of enjoyment. I may have seen the movie before reading the book (I am a huge Stephen King fan and have read almost all of his books so I figured it was time to pick this one up) and the movie brings the realistic element that King is known for.
    Overall, decent writing – which is why it got knocked down to 4 stars. The premise is good and execution is good but some of the time you feel like you are reading a novel and not engulfed in the game. I’d recommend it as a fun and easy read to anyone looking to waste time.

  • tresspass
    4:36 on April 25th, 2013
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    A spectacular novel, unputdownable, incredible characters and action. Utterly different from the awful movie. Seriously, you might actually read this in one sitting.

  • Doug G
    5:59 on April 25th, 2013
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    I found this book well written, and had a thrilling edge to it. It almost felt like I was the one being chased! I would rate it five stars if they would have made the movie better, and shortened the chase a bit. His running from the hunters dragged on, when I would of rathered King write more about his life before.

  • wtfwtfwtf
    6:15 on April 25th, 2013
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    This is a good book, no denying that. But better than the hunger games? No way – the hunger games I couldn’t put down for a second I was enthralled, enraptured with Katniss and the elite, etc.
    This is a bunch of kids killing each other – and while to me, that in itself is cool, I just can’t follow it. It’s been very difficult for me to get through. While I read the hunger games trilogy in I think three or four days – I’ve had this book on my lap for a week and I am mostly through it – but only because I want to be able to compare. There are some surprises and very excellent scenes – the ending (I already read it) is awesome – I absolutely love it but I don’t know.. I agree with the minority here on every part…the translation…the lack of character development and just “something’s missing”.
    It’s worth reading though. And if it weren’t for the Hunger Games I might have given it another star…

  • AOLindia
    7:16 on April 25th, 2013
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    I love this book. There’s lots of action and plenty of blood (that sounds morbid). Takami’s style adds a twisted humor to this extremely dark story. The ending is incredible.

  • Kudos
    9:04 on April 25th, 2013
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    I read this book when I was a young teen and I like it still as a good indication of Stephen King’s still developing talent when it was written. I only hope that this work doesn’t share the same fate following 09/11/01 that The Rage did following Columbine.

  • jeeze
    9:24 on April 25th, 2013
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    To this point in the Bachman Books (where I originally read the story), King had been steadily improving as his alter ego. This was definitely a step back. King himself said that he thought that this was probably the strongest piece from the collection, since it didn’t bother itself with a message (an outright lie, since there are obvious criticisms of America’s voyeuristic society contained within the piece), a statement which really puzzles me.

    The story here isn’t told exceptionally well–I don’t see it as being up to King’s usual standards. The chaptering is actually a little hokey, and has almost nothing to do with the actual plot of the book (a minor problem, but something which bothered me to no small extent). The story itself is uniformly depressing–there is no catharsis in this work. Just like at some points in the Talisman, the bad just builds and builds until everything comes to a bad conclusion.

    All things considered, this isn’t a really reprehensible work, but it disappointed me, after seeing just what King is capable of. This is a story that most authors probably wouldn’t have written, for that matter–it would seem to conform better to the dimensions of a short story. As a read for a short airline flight, it fits the bill, but if you’re looking for meat, it’s just not there to be had.

  • Vinyl Fan
    11:02 on April 25th, 2013
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    While some may argue that this is the original Hunger Games (which it is), it isn’t necessarily better. I mainly bought this book because it was unavailable anywhere near me and I was Intrigued. The plot itself was decent enough, and it certainly was more gory than HG, but what bothered me was the writing itself. It was bland and only delved an inch or so into the actual characters; I never felt as if I knew them. Maybe the better parts of writing were lost in translation, but most likely Battle Royale has always been this lack-luster. Anyway, I’d recommend to those who don’t mind reading about extreme violence, but don’t get your hopes up for a Pulitzer.

  • Ruben P
    12:44 on April 25th, 2013
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    After having read the hunger games, I decided to read Battle Royale.

    I was captivated with the book. It thrived with action from begining to end. I like the fact that the author gave just enough expository to make his point. All though I knew who would survive in the end, the twists and turns along the way were interesting, and at times unexpected. One problem I had was the number of characters in the book. I think the author of hunger games got it right when she copied the book and narrowed it down to 12. Also, some of the translation was incorrect, but I got past it and it didn’t bother me much. And the “knit brows” was over used. Can we use other pharases like “furrowed brows”?…It was a little over used, but I got past it. I really loved the book and the message was clear. Can’t wait to see the movie!

  • Joepalooka
    14:34 on April 25th, 2013
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    I’ve read online reviews of Richard Bachman/Stephen King’s novel The Running Man, and some of them claim that this book lacks a certain something that relegates it to being the worst of the Bachman Books. For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would think that. As far as I’m concerned, The Running Man is not only one of Bachman/King’s best books, it’s one of the best straight-up action novels I’ve had the pleasure to read.

    When you think about it, there are a ton of action movies out there, but not very many action novels. Sure, you have a plethora of low-grade action series, such as Mack Bolan, Remo Williams, etc, but there aren’t very many stand-alone, pure action novels. The Running Man is one, though, and from beginning to end it’s a thrill a minute.

    I grew up in the `80s, and of course loved the Schwarzenegger film, loosely based on this book. Matter of fact, I still do. But the movie just doesn’t compare; whereas it’s goofy, WWF-type fun, the novel is dark, brutal, and brimming with mean-spirited, hardcore action. Ben Richards, the scrawny, underfed, cynical protagonist of the novel, is a far cry from Schwarzenegger’s he-man. This is one of the best features of the novel, witnessing the “pre-tubercular” Richards (per King’s description, in his “The Importance of Being Bachman” foreword) take on the forces sent against him.

    According to King, the novel was written over a 72-hour period, and the published version supposedly isn’t much different than that first draft. This speed of writing is reflected in the novel: it chugs along like a No Doze-popping trucker. Whereas most King novels are bogged down by excessive description and detail (something King is normally criticized for by the literary critics), The Running Man is a trim, fat-free exercise in the concept of “less is more.” A grander scheme (and theme) is hinted at in the subtext of the book, but like all good novels, it isn’t beaten over your head; the story itself is the star, and after reading it you’ll reflect on the little details ingrained within.

    Since this is a Richard Bachman novel, expect his trademark, downer ending. However, the ride there is exciting and excellent, and this is one of the few Bachman/King books I would consider re-reading in the future. The novel begs for a more faithful film adaptation; the modicum of description, the streamlined action and characters, and the black humor dripping from the dialog all make the book read like a well-done, action-packed screenplay.

    It’s never been considered a part of the subgenre, but I think The Running Man is an early example of what has become known as cyberpunk. Though it doesn’t feature the trademarks normally associated with the genre, such as computers and hackers, the atmosphere in which the novel takes place – a grim, technology-ravaged, depressing world in which a large wall separates the rich from the poor, and the media reigns supreme – could come straight out of William Gibson, or even the film “Blade Runner.”

    Simply put, The Running Man comes highly recommended, whether you’re an action fan, a King aficionado, or even if you’re looking for an introduction to the world of Stephen King/Richard Bachman.

  • fhzsdgmbgmw
    15:56 on April 25th, 2013
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    For those who have only seen the movie, this book will not be what you expect. It seems that the producers of the film only wanted the bare concept about a life and death TV game show and then made up their own story from there. This Ben Richards is a volunteer who wants to earn enough money to pay for his daughter to get medical care. He is a fairly bitter man in a bleak world and the overall tone of the novel is largely pessimistic.

    Regardless of the dark tone, this is still an entertaining book. Richards is not the most likable character, but the network executives and hunters are so odious that you can’t help but root for the underdog. The story moves along fairly briskly and there is enough character development to make you care what happens to Ben and his helpers. This may not be one of King’s best novels, but it makes for an entertaining read and I would recommend it on that level.

    One word of warning, however. King has added an introduction in which he gives away the ending to the book. Why an experienced writer has done something so foolish is beyond me but the knowledge badly damaged my ability to read and enjoy the book. If you have not read Running Man before, I highly encourage you to skip the introduction until after you have read the story.

  • Henry
    18:31 on April 25th, 2013
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    I read this book over the summer and after trying numerous other King books, this is my favorite. Strangely, I seem to enjoy the ones written under the pseudonym Bachman more than others. Maybe because they are more to the point and the alternate name allowed King more freedom, phycologically and legally. It is not considered horror, but it is scary. Read it, it’s short.

  • DUsan Neumann
    20:33 on April 25th, 2013
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    BATTLE ROYALE, by Koushun Takami, is a brutal and compelling story that clearly influenced Suzanne Collins’s popular HUNGER GAMES series. Takami’s story, set in a near-future Japan, is about a government program called Battle Experiment No. 68 (or “the Program”) in which students from 50 junior high school classes around the country are taken to undisclosed locations and forced to kill each other until only one remains. The government seems to be using the Program for two purposes: 1) as research into human nature, and 2) as a means of controlling the population. Parents who object to their children’s participation in the Program are brutalized or killed. Students who refuse to participate in killing their classmates have their heads blown off by specially designed metal collars placed around their necks.

    This is a very difficult book to read. It’s overwhelmingly violent – the brutality begins during orientation, when the chosen students wake up from a drug induced sleep to realize they’ve been kidnapped and will be forced into the Program. Students who object are shot. Students who try to help the wounded are also shot. Once the battle actually begins, the violence and terror escalate. The killings are described in intricate detail – there’s enough blood for any fan of ultra-violent horror.

    I do believe that Suzanne Collins borrowed liberally from BATTLE ROYALE when she wrote HUNGER GAMES. There are certainly some very strong similarities between the two novels, including the central premise. Both books also include a romantic couple who try to figure out a way to avoid the “one winner only” rule so they can both survive. The biggest difference between the two is actually the ultimate message of each. While Collins’s trilogy contains far more humor than Takami’s novel, hers is ultimately a far darker and more depressing message. Not only is the Capitol corrupt in her novels, but so is the resistance. Her heroine (Katniss) may survive her ordeal, but she seems broken in the end. BATTLE ROYALE’s message is much more clearly about the power of love to overcome the horrors of the world we live in. Shuya and Noriko believe in that love, and they fight for it throughout the novel. In that way, BATTLE ROYALE is a much more uplifting and satisfying novel than any of the HUNGER GAMES books.

    BATTLE ROYALE is not a children’s book, and as such it contains profanity, extreme violence, sex, and non-stop action. It’s been compared to LORD OF THE FLIES (also not a children’s book, although it’s often taught to children), but I think that comparison is unwarranted. Golding’s novel is about the inherent darkness (or evil) at the heart of humanity. His schoolchildren, left alone without adult supervision on a deserted island, end up violently attacking one another. Evil is stronger than good, Golding contends. Takami’s BATTLE ROYALE, on the other hand, is about the ultimate power of love, which he definitely sees as stronger than evil and hatred. His schoolchildren are forced to violently attack one another, but even so there are some who rise above this tyranny. I found the novel to be quite inspirational and I highly recommend it.

  • Josephine S
    22:04 on April 25th, 2013
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    I was first introduced to “Battle Royale” by a good friend of mine who said I just HAD to watch the movie. It took me a while ’cause the movie is not distributed in the U.S. and, therefore, is hard to buy or rent. Finally, I found it to rent and the movie was amazing … phenomenal! I had bought the book (the novel NOT the manga) a few months ago (before watching the movie) but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. After watching the movie, I just HAD to read it and finally picked it up and began reading all 620 pages within a week or so.

    All I can say about the book is: it’s 10 times better than the movie!!!! This book is clever and insane at the same time, making it a terrific, can’t-put-the-book-down-type of read! As was said in one of the earlier reviews, you wouldn’t think it’d be easy to keep up with the 42 students but, after a while, it is. Unlike the movie (which was very good for the time they had to keep it down to), the book is seen through pretty much every character’s point of view and the action scenes as well as the explanation of injuries and deaths is so well-written and described that you can’t help but wonder what author Koushun Takami is going to write for his next book.

    I do have to admit that I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and since the novel mentions him and quotes one of his famous songs during a crucial end scene of the book, my liking of this book grew hugely! The fact that Takami was able to comment on not only young adult issues but also of country politics and economics, computer hacking, fascism and emotional issues (plus the importance of rock music and its influence) is astounding! All of these issues are addressed within this book without sounding preachy and complicatedly overdiscussed to the point of boredom. He writes with such knowledge and detail of computer hacking and homemade bomb-making that it makes the reader wonder whether he has personal experience with these things or not.

    Like I said, the reader REALLY gets to know more of the characters and their emotions in this book, which makes it all the more tragic when each come to their demise. Because there are 42 different characters, there are several stories, emotions and thoughts varying of love, hate, sadness, fear, and hope that you see through each person. Because of not only our, but the world’s, desensitized views on violence, I think people who read or hear about this book (and see the movie) really don’t take in the extreme seriousness of the plot: Imagine having to kill your friends (… your best friends, for that matter) to survive. Could you do it? Could you actually live with memories like that? The idea alone is scary as hell and these 9th grade students have to do just that!

    The book is a mix of A Clockwork Orange, Lord of the Flies (Perigee), 1984 (Signet Classics), and Stephen King’s The Running Man and The Long Walk all in one. I’ve always been impressed with books, movies or TV shows that are ensemble and focus on a group of people rather than just two or one person(s). And the characters in this are all so wonderfully described that you wonder what would become of them or what they would be like if you knew them in real life. If you wondered why some parts of the movie were the way they were, then read the book and it answers pretty much everything. There is also a great love story (without becoming too mushy) and PLENTY of action and plot twists. I do have to warn squeamish readers that this book is very descriptive and violent. There aren’t really any sexual situations but the violence is plentiful. Like the movie Final Destination (New Line Platinum Series), near the middle of the first part of the book, you morbidly begin wondering how the next student will meet their death. And each death can be seen as a metaphoric failure-in-life because of that character’s personality flaw under stress, which would lead to their failure in life because of the usual stresses that life can sometimes bring (i.e. SPOILER — the young couple commit suicide rather than fight to survive and live; their kind of love has blinded them ’cause they can’t imagine living without each other). Fear and selfishness are the true enemies which lead to death in this story.

    The only flaw with the first edition was because it was translated from Japanese to English, there were sometimes grammatical errors and words missing but in this edition, they’re all improved! Also included that’s new to this edition is a forward by Max Allan Collins (The Road to Perdition), an afterword by the author (think of it almost as a “commentary” on the book), and a interview with the director of the 2000 movie, Kinji Fukasaku (The Yakuza Papers – Battles Without Honor & Humanity (Complete Box Set), basically the Japanese The Godfather – The Coppola Restoration Giftset DVD).

    This book is simply one of the best stories I’ve ever read! In the form of a survival/violent action story, the plot is really about learning to make your way in the world and not being afraid to go out there and live. Life can be scary but its worth living.

  • pff...
    23:18 on April 25th, 2013
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    It’s 2025. The world’s poor live in abject poverty while the rich live in highrises ignoring the starving masses grovelling around them. Dissent is repressed by heavy handed police, and the ironically named Free Vee (the TV went out of style years ago) with its sadistic game shows. These macabre shows – with names like ‘Fun Guns’ and ‘Dig Your Own Grave’ – tempt desperate slum dwellers with quick cash but in order to obtain the prize money the contestants must put their body and pride on the line for the enjoyment of the millions of viewers across the world. One man, Ben Richards, driven by the inability to provide for his wife and influenza stricken daughter, decides to join the hundreds of impoverished who line up before the enourmous Games Building for a chance to win the elusive prizes. Richards however is different from the average drug addict or street bum who tries out for the games. He’s fit and smart – exceptionally smart. So intelligent that he’s picked for the most grueling show of all: ‘The Running Man’. A game where the player must try to stay free as long as he can as he tries to hide from the rest of America and a group of elite special forces called the Hunters. If the contestant is caught before thirty days (an impossible goal) the game is over and the contestant killed.

    I immiediatly began to enjoy the main character, Ben Richards from the very start. King creates a typical outcast of society, and rebel of authority but then adds a more sensitive side to the character. Balancing Richards’ scathing wit with his powerful love for his family the author makes Richards both intensly charismatic and convincing. Defintely one of my favourite literary characters ever. However King doesn’t stop there. The supporting characters are all really realistic as well especially people like Evan Mcone – the sinister leader of the Hunters – and Bradley – the streetwise visionary who is attempting to start a revolution.

    King also adds a little bit of satire in his novel. In ‘The Running Man’ he brings to light how TV is a dangerous weapon which can be used against people. The Free Vee in his novel is a horrible object which pumps propaganda and manufactured happiness into the homes of millions across the nation. It easily suppresses the masses who would otherwise rise up in rebellion. With America today inudated with war propaganda and mindless reality TV shows it is not difficult to find the parallel between the story and reality. In times like these this novel gives an important warning that not everything you see on the boob tube is real.

    The novel combines this satirical edge and realistic characters into an exciting storyline which will keep you ‘running’ through the book as fast as you can to reach the action packed conclusion. An excellent intelligent thriller every one should read.

  • getout
    0:40 on April 26th, 2013
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    Order the book,it was to be shipped with 2 days shipping. I just started the Prime membership. It didn’t
    arrive on the Saturday it was to be.Tracking information was no help, it could not track it at all. Possibly
    wrong information was provided or the package had never left and failed to get into the system. I chatted with
    the customer rep on line, who was helpful to make arrangement to ship it overnight. The second book arrived
    the next day by UPS as promised. The first book never showed up and who knows what had happened to that book.
    I cancelled the Prime membership, I didn’t see paying $75.00 to not getting the quick shipping as promised.
    The book itself is fine, it is my son’s school reading.

  • belgordon
    0:52 on April 26th, 2013
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    If this book isn’t one of the features in the book 100 One-Night Reads, it should be. It’s a relatively brief novel written near the beginning of King’s writing career. King wasn’t well known for horror and had even less qualifications for sci fi, yet he does amazingly well at envisioning the sort of “Reality TV” that could develop in an increasingly jaded and bloodthirsty world. I could not put the book down until I finished it. There aren’t many books I can say that about. Contrary to what a few reviewers thought, I enjoyed the movie about as much as the book, and reading the book beforehand didn’t seem to dim the excitement for me. A very suspenseful story that grabs and doesn’t let go.

  • hahahah
    2:15 on April 26th, 2013
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    I think it’s been about five minutes since I read the last word of “Battle Royale.” My heart is still pounding abnormally fast, and every few seconds, I have to take a break from typing to watch the French countryside rushing by outside the train window instead. The view is strangely soothing, and I definitely need some calming right now.

    So. “Battle Royale.” Was. Epic. Dare I say it? It was better than “The Hunger Games,” and “The Hunger Games” is one of my favorites. Both have similar settings: a dystopian government that forces children into an arena and makes them kill each other off one by one. But “Battle Royale” ended up as the more striking, more intense, of the two. The novel grabbed me, strapped me to a poodle, and threw me off a cliff. How does a poodle save a person from a fall off a cliff, you may ask. It doesn’t. That’s why I kind of feel like an insignificant smudge on the ground right now.

    Unlike “The Hunger Games,” which focuses only on Katniss’s narrative, “Battle Royale” jumps around from one student to another. I didn’t find that disorienting or discontinuous. The skipping around reveiled quite a lot about each participant of the Program, as the government calls this bloodbath. Such intricate lines bind all the classmates together, and it’s so saddening to watch it all fall apart. There are love interests and friendships and histories and their own survival to consider as the 15-year-olds wander around an island with machine guns, scared out of their wits. What a story Takami-san has dreamt up. What a story.

    And the ending, too. Wow, if you thought “The Hunger Games”‘s ending was jarring, you will be totally unprepared for “Battle Royale”‘s. Takami-san wrote it with the flare of a pro, although I kind of want to punch him now…

    The only thing I disliked were the gory scenes. “Battle Royale” was a lot more graphic than I’d imagined. So instead of puking up the contents of my stomach, I just skipped the paragraphs describing blood and bashed-in brains. The human imagination is always a lot more vivid than a movie scene. Normally, that’s a good thing, but now, not so much.

    I would say that I’m now a fangirl of “Battle Royale,” but given the book’s subject matter, I don’t think that’d be entirely appropriate. Apparently, Takami-san is writing (or has already written) a second novel. I must hunt it down.

  • Mike Heinlein
    3:28 on April 26th, 2013
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    I think this is an amazing book in that there were so many different characters and each responded to the pulse pounding action in a different way. The dynamic was great in that each character’s strategy had the potential to render another character’s useless in a rock, paper, scissors sort of way.

    That said, the ending left me a little unsatisfied. With the way the story built up I expected more payoff, more earth shattering epiphany, but I chalk that up to culture differences. US reader expect more closure from their books than other cultures do, so I really can’t hold that against the author.

    But I could have done with fewer knitted brows.

  • Rusty
    4:15 on April 26th, 2013
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    Published in 1982 under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman, the author was strangely prescient, as the novel takes place in the year 2025 in the good old United States of America, only it is not so good anymore. With an economy that sharply divides the haves and the have nots, reality television is the only thing that brings these two disparate halves of the economy together.

    Twenty something Ben Richards is living with his wife and baby girl in a ramshackle housing development in dire poverty. He is at the end of his rope. His wife is turning tricks to keep them barely alive, and their baby girl is dying from the flu for lack of proper medical care and medication. Theirs is truly miserable existence.

    The only entertainment for those such as them is Free-Vee, which delivers non-stop reality television shows in which desperate wretches try to win big monetary payoffs. Desperate for money to be able to help his little girl, Ben auditions for a reality television show and is selected for the ultimate life or death reality show, where the truly desperate are hunted down by a group called the “Hunters”, whose only mission is to kill their quarry. The payoff is big, should one succeed in evading death, but no one ever has.

    Such is the desperation of Ben Richards that he would even consider signing on for such a show. Unfortunately for him, he soon realizes that there is a reason no one has ever succeeded in evading the “Hunters” and decides that it is time that someone changes the status quo. That someone will be him, as he turns the show on its head.

    The book is definitely bleak in its outlook and pretty depressing. There is virtually no character development of anyone other than the protagonist, and even there that is somewhat limited. This book was supposedly written in three days by the author, and it shows in the quality of the writing.

    Still, the story line was intriguing, and certainly the author was onto something, as who knew in 1982 that reality shows would have such a hold on the public, as they do today? It is simply too bad that the story, as written, has little emotional grip on the reader, rendering it somewhat less than satisfying. Nonetheless, fans of the author will find some enjoyment in this somewhat mediocre book. A word to the wise, do not read the author’s intro “The Importance of Being Bachman” until after you have read the book, if you want to avoid knowing how “The Running Man” ends before you read the book.

  • Johnny P.
    6:05 on April 26th, 2013
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    I decided to take another look at the “Richard Bachman” novel “The Running Man,” because I wanted to check and see how much Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had been ripping it off last year with their idea for a reality game show contestants tried to get from point “A” to point “B” with the entire nation keeping their eye out for them to cash in on a reward. The show got the plugged pulled on it after 9/11 and somehow the punch line to that particular story ends up being “Push, Nevada,” but that is not important right now.

    Ben Richards lives in a futuristic bleak America where his only hope of getting the money he needs to take his daughter to a doctor, is to be “lucky” enough to get a spot on one of the big television game shows. Ben hits the jackpot and becomes the contestant on “The Running Man.” The rules are fairly simple: you are given a head start and head off into the world where the government will give $10,000 to anybody who kills you. Add to that the show’s hunters, who will be in hot pursuit as well, and it is no wonder that no one has every survived the one month necessary to “win” the game. Of course, “The Running Man” has never had a contestant like Ben Richards before.

    Anyhow, “The Running Man” is what they would have called a potboiler in the old days. The gimmick is how each of the 100 chapters countdown to the thrilling climax (a ploy Dickie Bachman likes a lot if you remember what the author did in “Thinner”). Reading “The Running Man” reminds me of watching “Survivor,” (albeit with a killer twist on the old “Queen for a Day” game show) because the chief fun with each is wondering what you would do in that selfsame predicament. The original game concept is a lot more interesting than the lame version they came up with for the movie version, which was more a take off on “American Gladiators” to suit the peculiar talents of star Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is a quick and easy read, which is exactly what you want with a plot like this one.

    Final note, if you read this one you might as well do its evil twin, “The Long Walk.” If not taken separately certainly when considered together these two stories will convince you that Mark Burnett does not have anything on Stephen King when it comes to creating reality game shows. Then again, I am not sure if King is amazing prescient, or if this is simply a reminder of how close King has his finger on the pulse of popular culture.

  • TMStamp
    6:19 on April 26th, 2013
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    I picked this book up for one reason, I enjoyed the movie. By the time I finished the book I realized something, the movie sucks by comparison! The Running Man is quite possibly the best of the Bachman books!

  • Scott Austin
    7:13 on April 26th, 2013
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    I haven’t met a Bachman book so far that I haven’t been a fan of. While this isn’t my favorite from the pseudonym, it is still very enjoyable. This book was originally published in 1982, and like “the long walk” focuses on a futuristic America. (this time the year 2025).

    It’s always interesting to read books written over 20 years ago about a futuristic America in which we now live. (even though we’re not quite to 2025 yet) Some of the small things you notice are that cigarette vending machines are present, the costs of items are more representative of what they were in the 80′s, and the dialogue has obviously changed. Most would look at these as distractions, but I actually found them enjoyable. It made me appreciate that much more the story Stephen King wrote because it gave me better perspective on when he wrote it.

    In King’s novel every household is, by law, equipped with a “free-vee” whose programming is designed by “the network”. The “games” that people watch exploit those participating for the entertainment of those who are watching. (sound familiar?) This was written long before reality television was mainstream. One of the games depicted by King is called Treadmill to Bucks. The contestants run on a treadmill and have to answer questions. If they answer incorrectly the treadmill speeds up. According to the author, “they only accept chronic heart, liver, or lung patients sometimes throwing in a crip for comic relief”.

    Like all of his books, especially of the Bachman variety, the story centers heavily on the people. In this case it is Ben Richards an unemployed father whose daughter has pneumonia and he can’t afford medicine. His wife is prostituting herself just to be able to buy black market medicine for the child and food for the family. (This is no Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film of the same name. They have very few if any similarities.)

    Very enjoyable, and a quick read. Definitely recommended.

  • Only...
    7:35 on April 26th, 2013
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    Years before reality tv was even thought of by television companies, Stephen King presented the idea (writing under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman) as being a mass-opiate to the public. Set in a dystopia future in 2025, THE RUNNING MAN revolves around Ben Richards, a down-an-out common worker who can’t get a job because he won’t fit into the system. Being unemployed and practically unhirable, Richards’ 18-month-old-baby-girl begins suffering from a chronic cough and he and his wife have no way to pay for medicine. Knowing that his child will die unless she gets the medicine she needs, Richards registers and enters himself in the Free-Vee games. People can win lots of money on these reality shows, but they’re also highly dangerous and usually lethal. Richards knows he’s not old enough for Treadmill to Bucks, so he hopes for a shot at a show like Swim the Crocodiles. Instead, Richards finds himself selected for the biggest money show of them all, The Running Man. Presented to the public as a wretched criminal, Richards is released into the public. For every hour he stays alive, he earns money. If he can stay alive without being caught for a predetermined amount of time, he’ll win a life of luxury. The catch is, no one has ever survived–everyone is eventually hunted within a few days. But, Richards is a man living not for himself and every moment he’s alive gives his baby girl a better chance of surviving.

    THE RUNNING MAN is a very tight and action-based book. It fits more into the genre of science fiction than the horror/suspense that King is usually known. However, except for the motivation of Ben Richards, the book lacks any characterization that King writes so well. The book is a quick read, but not as fulfilling. Also, in the post-9/11 world we live in some people may have concerns about the novel’s ending. I, however, enjoyed THE RUNNING MAN, but didn’t find it as fulfilling as much of King’s other works.

  • Dick Long
    8:37 on April 26th, 2013
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    This book was incredible. I saw the movie a few years ago, and I’d wanted to read the book for quite some time. I finally decided to order it and noticed there was a new edition with an apparently better translation and many extras. It was an awesome value for the amount of content included. The movie was fairly accurate in accordance with the book plot which pleased me. The only thing I wished there was more of would be character explanation and setup. Some of the lesser characters don’t get much of an introduction, but it is understandable since there are about 40 to 50 of them. The main characters could have used some more back story explanations, but other than that I found no problems with the book! I love it.

    Buy this book, it is so difficult to put down, you will love every page. Action-packed and full of detail.

  • Steven Ertman
    9:40 on April 26th, 2013
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    Forty-two 15-year-old classmates, armed with various weapons, are dropped off on an island, where they must kill each other until only one survivor remains. The premise is irresistible, the plot full of interesting twists, but the story is told in such an implausible, over-the-top kind of way, that you find yourself getting embarrassed to be reading this even though you keep turning the pages. Consider, for example, this scene from page 508: Kazuo, the psychopath in the group, is crouched on the ground trying to build a fire, when a girl runs towards him from behind, intending to stab him. Without even turning around, Kazuo grabs his Beretta, reaches around himself, and pulls the trigger twice. The first shot hits the running girl in the chest; the second hits her in the head. She dies. All this is ridiculous enough (he shoots without looking while reaching behind himself and hits a running target in two vital areas? Really?), but the best bit is yet to come: Kazuo is so certain he has killed the girl, THAT HE DOESN’T EVEN TURN AROUND TO MAKE SURE!!!! He simply puts away his gun and continues making his fire.

    Nor is Kazuo the only crack shot in the bunch. These 15-year-olds are all supernatural marksmen. Almost every bullet fired in this book finds its mark, unless the mark is Shuya (the hero)in which case even point-blank shots are not enough to injure him so badly that a quick nap won’t restore him to almost full strength. As for the demise of the very last student to die — I can’t discuss it without giving too much of the ending away, but let’s just say that in a book full of implausibilities, this one death rules supreme.

    I am amazed to read reviews here praising the book for its fully-drawn characters. The story is actually peopled with the usual assortment of stereotypes (the psychopath, the world-class computer hacker, the “bad” girls, the “good” girls one of whom is of course injured early on and must be cared for by the others in the rest of the story, the gay guy, the spoiled scion of the local elite, the heartless bureaucrat, the star athlete.

    Finally, I understand that this is a new translation that is much better than the previous one. The truth is that this translation is pretty poor, so the previous one must have been truly awful. Furthermore, the editing fell short, too, so mistakes are plentiful and quite glaring.

    Bottom Line: Plot and premise are certainly worth your time, but if you can’t tolerate bad writing and bad editing this one will exasperate you.

  • iPhone Coder
    11:20 on April 26th, 2013
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    I am only leaving this review for one purpose, to warn you about a spoiler in the intro. Don’t worry I am not going to spoil it for you to. In the intro by King called The Importance of Being Bachman, he quite literally tells you the ending. It took a lot of the fun out of the book, and I just wanted to let others know that the spoiler was in there.

  • Bertie Allsop
    12:06 on April 26th, 2013
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    In 1982 Stephen king wrote the running man; a science fiction action adventure set in 2020 or so. The portrait he painted of the future in this novel is remarkably acurate in our world today, 14 years shy of the running man’s. King prophecized a number of things including, reality television with cruel overtones, media influence over gov’t, the use of airplanes as weapons, and air pollution. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read that was far superior to and much different than the movie.

  • eric h
    13:57 on April 26th, 2013
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    I saw this book mentioned in relation to The Hunger Games which I loved so I had to read it. I liked the pace of this novel, and the story was great, I really had no idea how it was going to end and the poison situation was incredible. My only issue after finishing the novel is that at the end the guns and the paper with the address on it should have gotten wet but it wasn’t explained how they didn’t. Everything else was so thoroughly explained but somehow they got an address written in pencil from a piece of soaking wet paper and wet guns still worked? Otherwise it was a great novel.

  • Happyinaz
    15:12 on April 26th, 2013
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    It wasn’t until I picked this book up last week at a book sale that I realized I had seen the movie and not actually read the story. I can tell you that although both are worth your time the two are not that much alike.

    The book THE RUNNING MAN takes us into a time that is not too far away from where we are now. People glorify in what they see as justice being carried lived on tv, and the reward is great not only for those playing the game of the law but those who are bringing it to us as well.

    With Ben Richards, a man who finds himself accused of crimes he didn’t commit, there is a choice to be made: will you just accept the fate layed out for you or will you fight for your innocence and your name being cleared regardless what the cost? Looking at where we are not in society where death is glorified and the gory stories are the more we want to see, King showcases the path of humanity and where we are headed if we don’t start rethinking what we see as entertainment and the difference between what is right and right.

    To say that this book was prophetic of some of the reality shows we see today is an understatement. The great thing about King is that he delivers an entertaining read while allowing us to see that not all endings are happy but they can be just.

    If you are looking for the storybook ending that was delivered on the big screen then you might be disappointed, but this will still be a book that will make it one of your favorite that King has delivered…and that says alot.

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