Battle Royale has always been one of my favorite movies and I watched it more than once, but I had no idea it was based on a book; when I found out, I had to read it.
The book is quite thrilling and suspenseful, and it's sometimes difficult to put it down.
I was surprised to find so many big differences between the movie and the novel: often I wondered if I was reading the right book, or maybe some fanfiction inspired by the movie.
The novel seemed to me both worse and better than the movie.
Worse because there is something amateurish and juvenile about it; gladly, some of the silliest parts of the novel are left out or improved in the movie: Kazuo surviving a huge explosion without a scratch; Shuya bashing a locked door despite being badly injured and barely able to stand up; the car chase in the end; the frequent mentioning of brand names (the Mac Powerbook 150, all the weapons carefully listed by model name and maker... the writer must have been a computer geek and weapons enthusiast).
On the other hand, the novel is better than the movie, in which most of the students can't run without stumbling clumsily, and can't talk without screaming hysterically, which is definitely lame and annoying; their personalities and stories aren't enough explained in the movie, so there is just a sequence of hysteric people killing each other for barely explained reasons; Kazuo in the novel is a psychopathic, cold blooded, organized killer, but in the movie he becomes a messy spree killer who is so out of control, he's ridiculous, why ruin so badly one of the coolest character in the novel? It's also a pity that the dystopian society in which Battle Royale happens, well described in the novel, in the movie is deliberately ignored and replaced by a different story.
Before reading the novel, I thought Battle Royale was an awesome movie; after reading the novel, I think both the movie and the novel are inadequate. The idea behind Battle Royale is great, but it could have been implemented a lot better.
Of course, thinking about a better implementation, The Hunger Games comes to my mind. Compared to The Hunger Games, Battle Royale suffers from poor writing and poor characters development; Suzanne Collins writing style is effective, powerful and to the point, while Koushun Takami goes on and on with long dialogues, long flashbacks, long and often boring descriptions of fights, but fails in making the reader care about the characters.
Maybe something was lost because of the translation from Japanese to English; maybe in Battle Royale there are way too many characters: 42 students, some of them with very similar names, that is utterly confusing: "Behind Yukie, who crouched down beside Yuka and Haruka, Yuko stood still, her face completely pale."
; I don't remember being so confused about the 26 characters in The Hunger Games.