This book took a long time to read, which is a contrast from many of the reviews I read, in which readers were sucked in, and unable to put the book down. I was very able to put this book down. It had a very different effect on me than the recent “Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins; it is much more gruesome, visceral, and altogether unsettling. Although there are forty-two students in the “game,” the author displays skill at individualizing each competitor. Some act more like the fifteen-year-olds they are than others; some seem like hardened soldiers. Yet there is a deep sense of entrapment and doom surrounding every single character. Though I wanted
to believe escape was possible, I knew
, as I read, how very, very unlikely it was.
That being said, though I enjoyed it, either the fact that it was originally Japanese or the fact that it was badly translated threw me off at times. I found it a struggle to read through sentences that constantly began with “That’s right,…” or “Yes,…” and awkward phrasing such as the following:Shinji had no idea what Yutaka was talking about. His mouth hung open. Then he asked, “What are you talking about?”
There was so much repetition between character’s thoughts and dialogue that it drove me to distraction at times. In nearly every case, merely having the character ask the freakin’ question on his mind rather than think it, then ask it would have cleaned the narrative up nicely. I also found the emphasis and preoccupation of the teenagers with their “crushes” to be distracting – but I think that was intentional, either because it’s a normal part of Japanese schooling or as a way for the author to emphasize the youth of the characters.
Also, none of the supposedly “deep” dialogue seemed deep at all. I tend to think this is probably the fault of the translator. It felt very rushed.
I’ll probably read this one again. Knowing how it ends makes it readable again. But I’ll still be wincing.