We’re getting many positive reviews of The Battle Royale Slam Book and we were quite amused to see that sometimes reviewers disagree on what the best part of the book is. For example, over at the Comic Book Bin, Leroy Douresseaux writes:
I think the best essay is the introduction to the book, “Blood in the Classroom, Blood on the Page: Will ‘Battle Royale’ Ever Be on the Test,” written by Nick Mamatas. Basically, this piece is “what becomes a cult novel most.” Mamatas discusses other controversial novels (such as Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies) that eventually end up on high school and collegiate reading lists, which, in a way, serves to take away the edginess these works originally had. I agree with a terrific instructor I had in college: controversial novels with something meaningful to say about the human condition end up becoming children’s literature. It is almost as if adults believe that turning such books into juvenile fiction can rob these works of their power to affect change. I liked how much Mamatas’ essay engaged me and made me think, rather than just be passive, reading for amusement; I read the essay twice and picked through it a third time.
Meanwhile, at Anime News Network, Rebecca Silverman says:
The sourest note in the book is the introductory essay by editor Nick Mamatas, who apparently never had a good English teacher. His essay is less about the importance of Takami’s book and more a rant against teachers who neuter classic works for the classroom. It smacks of hipsterism, proclaiming that Battle Royale can never be neutered because it’s just that much deeper and darker than, for example, Lord of the Flies. (The better argument would be that it’s simply newer and easier for a contemporary audience to relate to.) While I may, as an English teacher, have found him more offensive than you will, his overall tone is much less academic than the other essayists’ and his piece does not serve as an effective introduction to the book.
So, which is it? Luckily, you, the reader get to decide!
PS: One quick note. Silverman’s review contains a factual error. It is not the case that all but three authors are American. Jason S. Ridler is Canadian, Kostas Paradias is Greek.