Monday, December 26, 2011

Battle Royale 2nd edition

As you may already know, I bought a first edition copy of this novel a few years back at National Bookstore Cubao (the one that's beside Gateway Mall and a few steps away from Breadtalk) and was taken aback by how affordable it was. English translated works by contemporary Japanese authors would normally be more expensive and hard to find, so to say that I was ecstatic to get my hands on this Japanese bestseller at the cost of a John Grisham or Nicholas Sparks novel would be a fairly accurate description of how I looked at the time as I made a beeline for the cash register.

Of course, given its price, the book was not without its faults. For one, it was printed using machine-finished paper, the kind that people would call an improved newsprint, while the cover had a matte finish instead of being glossy. As for the contents, it was edited in a way that can be quite confusing. Without even going into my issues regarding syntax, I remember certain chapters wherein some of the characters' names were inadvertently mixed up and if you're the type who's not used to reading and hearing oriental names, the inconsistent reference to a character's first name or last name to signify his/her relationship or familiarity with another character can slow a reader down. It's a hefty book which consists of over 600 pages, so keeping track of 42 students engaged in a military program where their lives are at stake can be quite a challenge especially if you read this over an extended period of time. 

Roughly a year after buying the said book, a new paperback edition surfaced at Fully Booked. Like most books that line this elite bookstore's shelves, this edition was far more eye-catching than the first. It had whiter pages and the publisher obviously bumped up the standard paper grade. It would also cost you a bit more at Php680 to get the new and improved version. 
Given my obsessive/compulsive need to see whether or not this edition was indeed better than the one already in my possession, I eventually bought a second copy, but not until the price spiked up to Php899 (oh wow, lucky me). Apparently, there was enough reason to jack up the price due to recent comparisons made between this Takami Koushun novel and crossover hit, The Hunger Games which would in turn explain that yellow, round sticker on the cover that advertised this novel as "the original survival game".

Fortunately though, all the positive buzz about this edition turned out to be true. It's still a hefty book but at least it is better edited and the overall presentation thereof, including the use of a larger font for the text, makes reading it an easy if not enjoyable experience. As an added bonus, the second edition includes translated interviews with not only the author, Takami Koushun, but also the director of the film adaptation, Fukasaku Kinji and a foreword from Road to Perdition writer, Max Allan Collins. The section on Fukasaku is relatively shorter than that of Takami's, being an old movie promo interview, but it still makes for an interesting read since the additional material touches on the creative process, the inspiration and the intent behind the written and cinematic versions of Battle Royale.

So is it worth to cough up the extra cash to get this edition?

I guess that all depends on how much you value reading a well-edited text. If you're unfazed by a few typographical errors and have a good mind to read and understand the words in the context that they're meant to be understood, then the first edition would do the same trick, especially if you're budget conscious.   


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