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Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Thursday, August 25, 2011
Koushun 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.

Battle Royale had this dark atmosphere right from the start. You are pulled into book and thrown on the deserted island where the 'program' is carried out. The characters in the book don't know where they are and as a reader you don't know either, which makes it spine chilling. Only one student can survive in the program and if no one participates in the 'game' then they will all die. Violent battles ensue. The students don't know who to trust even though they've been classmates for years, because someone might just betray them in the end to guarantee their own survival.

At the beginning I was overwhelmed at the 40+ names I had to remember but as you read on, you get to know and remember most of them. We dive into back stories of some of the characters which make them seem more human, rather than simple empty beings fighting for their survival and it makes it hard to read the outcomes of some of the characters you've grown to like. This book was unputdownable as I desperately wanted to find out how everything could possibly end.

★★★★★ for the unputdownability

Bargain Buys

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
This week, I discovered an Australian store: Basement Books where they sell books for up to 90% off the retail price! (awesome.)
The website sells excess stock that other bookstores can't sell or remaindered books which means they have a black texta mark across the edge of the book so it can't be returned to the publisher by the retailer.

The YA range is quite small but I grabbed two novels for a measly $2.40 each (shipped free!), only one of them was marked with texta and the other one was perfectly new! The books I grabbed both happen to be about previous lives/reincarnations (and have pretty covers):

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Ever since Haven Moore can remember, she’s experienced visions of a previous life as a girl named Constance, whose love for her soulmate Ethan ended in tragedy. And then the sight of the world’s hottest movie star, Iain Morrow, brings Haven to her knees. She knows she has met him before. Is Iain her beloved Ethan?
Unable to deny her past any longer, seventeen-year old Haven flees to New York to find him- and an epic love affair begins. But it is both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Can Haven unlock the deadly secrets hidden in her past lives- and loves- before all is lost and Ethan disappears again… forever?

Anxious Hearts by Tucker Shaw

Eva and Gabe explore the golden forest of their seaside Maine town, unknowingly tracing the footsteps of two teens, Evangeline and Gabriel, who once lived in the idyllic wooded village of Acadia more than one hundred years ago. On the day that Evangeline and Gabriel were be wed, their village was attacked and the two were separated. And now in the present, Gabe has mysteriously disappeared from Eva.

A dreamlike, loose retelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous love poem “Evangeline,” Anxious Hearts tells an epic tale of unrequited love and the hope that true love can be reunited