Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami, takes place in a dystopian fascist Japan. 42 ninth-grade students are transported to a remote island and forced to battle each other to the death after being selected to take part in The Program. The Program was designed with "national defense" as the reason, but in reality, it's a game where elites can place bets on winners.
The characters are well done. Some are good, some are bad, but given the situation, everyone has a reason for what they do. Some enjoy mowing their classmates down with an Uzi, some don't want to play, and others just want to survive. Trust is a hard thing to come by in this game. Kids who have known each other for years are suddenly in a position to suspect each other of wanting to kill them. Those who believe in the good of others are more often than not rewarded with a horrific death.
The plot is fast-paced and filled with brutality. The plot moved so fast and maintained interest so well that the over 600 pages didn't feel like over 600 pages. It keeps you turning page after page not realizing your "just one more chapter" was 6 chapters ago.
It was said that it's very similar to Hungar Games. The idea is similar, an oppressive government forcing children to kill each other every year, but that's where the similarities end. Not knocking Hungar Games, but Battle Royale is a faster, more interesting, more brutal story.
Mr. Takami wrote a fun, brutal, scary, psychological, and political story that is hard to put down. Recommended for anyone who liked the Hungar Games and is interested in a similar story with more bite.