Review: Battle Royale (Koushun Takami)

The Deets:
Audience: YA, adult
pages: 576
Publisher: February 26th 2003 by VIZ, LLC (first published April 1999)           
ISBN: 9781569317785
Genre: dystopian
Source: borrowed copy from neighbor

Battle RoyaleKoushun 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 Flies for 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.

You may be wondering, "What is a Battle Royale exactly?" If you are asking yourself that, then you are asking a great question. A Battle Royale is a mess. In it's simplest form, it's a whole bunch of people duking it out at the same time in some sort of cage match type thing in wrestling. It's not a tag team event, or a 2-on-1-- instead, it's survival of the fittest. Only one fighter will remain standing.

So, now you have an idea of what the book Battle Royale is going to be about. In this book, randomly selected classes of students are chosen to participate in the government's special "program." They are shipped off to a remote island, tagged with explosive collars, and told only one of them can remain alive. To survive, you have to kill your classmates.

Sound familiar? You bet it does. Can we say Hunger Games?

I'm about to piss a lot of people off, so if you are a die hard Hunger Games fan-- stop reading.

Now, don't get me wrong-- I really liked the Hunger Games books. I saw the movie and plan to see Catching Fire. But I am disgruntled now. When I read The Hunger Games, I was blown away by how original I thought the books were. I just ranted and raved to everyone I saw about it. Now I feel foolish, because Battle Royale first hit the scenes in 1999. That's an entire decade before HG! So, was HG really that innovative? Nope. Not at all. It was a complete rip off of Battle Royale.

Don't believe me? Still hung up on Peeta? Fine. But take a gander at this:

In Battle Royale, the government heads up the program and no one really understands its purpose.  There is also an evil dictator running the show behind the scenes while over paid government officials place bets on who will survive. Kids are being supplied with mystery packs to help or hinder their survival. But some kids are brutal and more willing to kill, while others just want to survive.  There are also kids stuck on an island that has forbiddon zones that change by the hour. The officials monitor every conversation and location throughout the event, while multiple survivors in the end are ready to stick it to the government. Oh, and don't forget the relationship between the male and female protagonists. That's important too. (This relationship also wouldn't be nearly as potent if there weren't a few near death experiences added in.)

So, which book did I just describe? Hard to tell, right?

So now you see why I feel a bit cheated by the shinyness of The Hunger Games. It really wasn't all that original. Yes, the writing style was different and seemed to focus on different elements with a great intensity, but it was not as unique as I thought. Battle Royale was more about survival and the inner darkness we all have, and less about the political overthrow we saw in Mockingjay. Also, I really liked how the author of Battle Royale gave multiple perspectives. You got a true understanding of why so many of the kids were willing to kill (or not). The irony of some of the situations were not lost on me, either.

If you are a fan of The Hunger Games-- and you actually read all of this knowing I was going to make you upset-- then you should read Battle Royale. You may end up feeling the same way I do. Either way, you owe it to yourself to at least compare the two stories.

Minute Review: Spartan Frost (Mythos Academy #4.5) by Jennifer Estep

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 60
Publisher: June 25th 2013 by K-Teen
ISBN: 9780758294777
Genre: novella. mythology
Source: eARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Spartan FrostEstep blends the perfect amount of action, romance and comedy. --"RT Book Reviews " I'm Logan Quinn, the deadliest Spartan warrior at Mythos Academy. At least I was--until the day I almost killed Gwen Frost.

Professor Metis and Nickamedes say that I'm fine, that Loki and the Reapers don't have a hold on me anymore, but I can't risk it. I can't risk hurting Gwen again. So I'm leaving Mythos and going somewhere far, far away.

I know Gwen wonders what's happening to me, whether I'm safe. I can't tell her, but this is my story...

Oh, Logan. *Swoon*  He is one of my favorites. In fact, I really enjoy this series.  I am glad to see that this is told from Logan's perspective. He is such a mystery in the other books. As a bridge book, this helps explain what he is thinking after that shocking ending in Crimson Frost.

As a Spartan, he is dedicated to the fight, but we have no idea how far his dedication goes. Now we get an idea. It's obvious he loves Gwen, but could he really just leave her? (I won't tell!)

As far as bridge books go, I appreciated that this just didn't retell a scene from his perspective. It actually extended the story a bit as well. There was new action that I had not seen before. I am anxiously awaiting my chance to read the next book, Midnight Frost.

Review: Of Triton (Anna Banks)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
pages: 246
Publisher:  May 28th 2013 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN: 9781250003331
Genre: mermaids, fantasy
Source: ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Of Triton (Of Poseidon, #2)In this sequel to OF POSEIDON, Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm below. Syrena law states that all Half- Breeds should be put to death.

As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance among the Syrena turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?

In a genre that has seen so many new additions lately, it's hard to set yourself apart from all the rest. I mean, really-- how many times can you read about a mermaid and be surprised? Well, in Of Triton, apparently every single time I turn a page!

It is no surprise that I love this series. I love just about everything about it. First off, the writing is great. The plot moves along smoothly without lagging. It is constant action that keeps you turning the page. Also, the characters have great voice. I read so many YA books that have teenage characters that sound like adults. Emma sounds like a teenage girl. She's snarky and humorous at the right times, but serious when she needs to be. How could you not laugh (or in my case, snort) when you read things like: "faint smell of microwave death" and "Sleeping Beast"? (Of course, Sleeping Beast was a perfect description for the super cranky character.) And don't even get me started on the chemistry between Emma and Galen. Hubba hubba.

As in Of Poseidon, the alternating points of view were executed perfectly. Each character told his/her part of the story without seeming repetitive. I really love that, and I have to commend the authors that can pull it off successfully.

There were also new characters added in Of Triton that really stood out (for me). I loved Antonis. He just reminded me of this quirky old man that everyone thinks is crazy, but really he just doesn't give a rat's patooty about what people think. He was frank and a bit rough around the edges. Loved. Him. I cannot wait to see what role he will play in Of Neptune.

My final thoughts as I ended Of Triton was, how on earth will this series continue in Of Neptune? My heart absolutely broke and I felt the loss deeply. Read on, and you'll see what I mean. It was monumental!

Book Blast + Giveaway for Age of the Aura, Phase 1 (Samuel Odunsi Jr)

Age of the Aura, Phase I: Champions of Power

Genre: Science Fiction (Space Opera)

The Blessed Galaxy has no other name. After being gifted with the Auras—five great powerhouses of celestial creation—the title was a suitable fit. For millennia, the governing bodies have ruled their respective reaches of the Galaxy while harnessing the might of the Auras. But now they face the threat of a calamity, from an unlikely source, that could shake the lives of all.
Lowen Sars, a devout man of science, decides to take on the burden of saving the Galaxy’s people once he learns of the calamity. But he soon realizes that the role of a hero was a calling not meant for him, even with his sudden promotion. In his process of self-discovery, Lowen begins the fateful saga of not only the Blessed Galaxy, but also the kingdom in possession of the corrupt Aura.

 Read more behind the story!

Download Phase I for FREE on Amazon!

(June 24th-28thONLY!)

Use THIS LINK to download Age of the Aura.

Enter to Win a Physical Copy of Phase I on GOODREADS! Follow THIS LINK to enter.

  Watch the Book Trailer!

Book Reviews for Phase I: (click the links below to read the reviews)

The Indie Book Review

A Book So Fathomless - "3.5 out of 5"

Beth Art From the Heart - "4 out of 5"

Voracious Reader - "3 out of 5"

Sadie S Forsythe -"3 out of 5"

Nik's Picks - "4 out of 5"

Dee's Reads - "3 out of 5"

My Cozie Corner - "5 out of 5"

Confuzzled Books - "4 out of 5"

Cheryl's Book Nook - "4 out of 5"

The Guide to Good Books - "5 out of 5"

Paranormal Sisters - "3.5 out of 5"

Books With Leti Del Mar - "3 out of 5"

Daughter of Smoke and Bone read-along: week 4

The end is drawing near! This week we are reading pages 245-326. That's the first 6 chapters of part 2 in The Lost Girl.

You have two assignments this week, so take your pick!

Your first challenge is to find a quote that speaks to you. What made you laugh out loud, chuckle to yourself, or just plain smile? Anything bring tears to your eyes, or make you shake your fist in anger? Tell us about it below!

Your second task requires some thinking. What are three things that you find most (or least) appealing about Karou or Akiva?

For week 5, we will be finishing our reading of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I will post the discussion questions next Sunday, so check back then to post! Remember, you get 2 entries in the giveaway for every comment you leave on the blog, plus an additional 1 entry for posting on the Facebook page (LINK HERE). So don't be shy! It doesn't matter when you post either, just as long as it's before we finish the book.

Happy reading!

Previous discussion posts:

Week 1 discussion
Week 2 discussion
Week 3 discussion

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