Okay, we've definitely all read The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins' popular YA dystopian fiction paints a grim yet fascinating world of corrupt governments, teen angst, and children fighting to the death for the entertainment of others, but here's something you might not know: Japan actually did it first.
Way before The Hunger Games was even released, Koushun Takami's Battle Royale was already tackling the topic of teenagers being forced to kill each other. Protagonist Shuya Nanahara and the rest of his class from Shiroiwa Junior High School are gassed and kidnapped from a bus meant for a school field trip, waking to find themselves trapped on an island and given one rule: that they must all kill each other, and there can only be one survivor. Sounds a little familiar, right?
Here's Why You'll Like It:
If you love The Hunger Games, you'll be happy to find that this book also handles themes such as government oppression, the moral dilemma of "kill or be killed", teen love triangles, and a twist ending that will literally make you shriek in public.
However, I actually liked this book even more than The Hunger Games for a couple reasons: The Hunger Games is definitely meant for the Young Adult Fiction audience whereas Battle Royale is much darker, gorier, and more mature, so it felt like a nice step up in terms of difficulty level; the dynamic between all of the characters is way more interesting because, unlike the world of Panem, the "game players" are all classmates and, in most cases, very good friends - it was interesting to see the mentality of being forced to kill a friend rather than an unknown opponent. Also, although there is a definite protagonist, the book is written in third person, meaning that some chapters switch around to examine the perspectives of some other characters (even the antagonists) so that you really get to understand more than one side of the narrative (kind of like Game of Thrones!).
Clothing Inspired by Battle Royale:
For today's outfit sets, I got inspired by some of the different strategies of the characters!
Working as a Team
Many of Shuya's classmates (and Shuya himself) immediately form alliances with other members of the class, some for general protection and some with the goal of finding a way to help everyone escape. Teamwork can be a tricky in a game such as this because of the fear that someone might betray you, but many of the students take that chance anyway.
This outfit is a more modern take on the school uniform worn by the abducted players of Battle Royale's "Program", based on the descriptions given in the novel, which mention a black school coat for boys and a sailor-suit style uniform for girls. Instead of the sailor suit, I've substituted in an olive green blouse with a bow-tie collar and a complementary navy corduroy skirt. I've also transformed the masculine boys' coat for a more feminine silhouette in this cinched-waist wrap coat. Pair these with matching navy-and-brown oxford shoes and some sheer tights with a heart pattern to represent the love and trust several of the students demonstrate towards each other despite their dismal situation.
Speaking of betraying your friends, another strategy used by some of the players (especially class beauty Mitsuko Souma) is to appear innocent and helpless on the outside in order to get close enough to a classmate to ultimately murder them. Seriously, some of these kids are super messed up.
I love this dress for this theme because the front - with its simple yet elegant black silhouette and lacy details - screams "sweet and innocent", while the back reveals a hidden, sinister-looking skull emblem. Nothing says "sweet but sexy" like some lacy thigh-highs, and these black stilettos have a very appropriately edgy platform. Complete the cool-girl look with a floppy burgundy hat, jeweled pendants, and some dangerous-looking triangular studs.
The third most prominent strategy in the book is downright aggression - demonstrated by kids who immediately throw themselves wholeheartedly into playing the game mercilessly and viciously. These kids were the scariest antagonists to me because of their lack of hesitation or moral conflict about having to kill their classmates. They are simple, straightforward survivalists.
I call this look "Hot Topic from the early 2000s". If it's black and/or has studs, it'll work. I chose the fiercest vest hoodie I could find and paired it with some studded combat boots, which will look great with some black distressed jeans. I also kept up the monochromatic look with a black t-shirt proclaiming a cold, menacing saying. With an outfit this fierce, it's the perfect opportunity to try out a beauty trend you might have had on your radar for a while but were too scared to try - like deep plum lipstick! Throw everything in a simple tan backpack and you're all ready to go.
What do you think?
Do you like The Hunger Games? Will you be reading Battle Royale? Do you have any book recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!