Before The Hunger Games, there is Koushun Takami’s thriller Battle Royale. Battle Royale is set in an alternative future Japan ruled by an oppressive government. As part of a ruthless authoritarian program, a class of junior high students are taken to a deserted island to fight to the death until one survivor is left standing. Each student is given a bag of supplies, a tracking collar, and a weapon before the games. If students refused to fight or follow the rules, their tracking collar detonates, effectively killing them.
The plotline is littered with themes of psychology, murder, survival, love, loyalty, and moral ground that will keep your heart pumping. Underneath all the violence is an allegory of what it means to be young and barely alive in a dog eat dog world. Basically, think of this novel as The Hunger Games for adults.
Battle Royale became a runaway bestseller in Japan when it was first released. By the time it became a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, it was made into a controversial hit movie of the same name. Now, the novel is available for the first time in the English language.
If you’re looking for a high-octane thriller that will keep you breathless, try Battle Royale!