This was a great book. I can't say that I really "enjoyed" it because of the subject matter but it was very engaging. The premise is disturbing - a class of middle grade (15 year old) students is brought to an island and told they must kill each other until only one student remains.Yes - it sounds just like The Hunger Games. But keep in mind, this book was published first. This book is the original. Although there are many many similarities, Battle Royale is different in one very important way - it's characters. These characters are all known to each other since they are in the same class. This adds a new dimension to the conflict that is not present in The Hunger Games. Takami also goes into the backstory of his characters revealing much more about the motivations for their decisions and the basis for their personalities.The only reason I did not rate this 5 stars is because I found this a little slow going. I think much of that is because of a combination of translation (it is very true that things get lost in translation) and cultural differences. I am not all that familiar with Japanese culture beyond what is on tv. In particular the dialogue was frustrating. I'm pretty sure this is a cultural difference because of the formality of the Japanese culture in contrast to our very laid-back American culture. The way most of them spoke to each other seemed somewhat alien to me. This really is not the fault of the author. Rather, it is, I think, a result of my unfamiliarity with the culture. All in all, this was a fantastic book and I would recommend it as long as you do not have a weak stomach. This is an extremely violent and gory book.