The Crimson Labyrinth Paperback – Oct 31 2006
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About the Author
Yusuke Kishi was born in 1959 in Osaka. He graduated from Kyoto University with a degree in Economics. After working for a life insurance company for several years, Kishi started his writing career as a freelancer. He has twice won the Japan Horror Association Award, and boasts bestselling status in Japan with multiple works adapted to the screen. The Crimson Labyrinth marks his American debut.
Top Customer Reviews
Cons: introduced to too many characters at once making them hard to remember
When Yoshihiko Fujiki wakes up in a red stone canyon in the rain, he has no idea where he is or what's happened to him. All he has are a few basic supplies and a handheld game system welcoming him to the Mars Labyrinth. Before he has the chance to follow the directions to the first checkpoint he runs into another player, Ai Otomo. Her game system is broken, so they team up to face... whatever comes next.
This is a novel that starts slowly - with Fujiki trying to figure out what's going on - but quickly builds momentum. Like the characters, you're horrified by the turns the 'game' takes, as some of the players become less and less human. And though Fujiki has some ideas of what's happening behind the scenes, figuring that out isn't as important as staying alive.
Try not to read the book's back cover synopsis as the first paragraph contains a spoiler that will colour how you read the novel.
The premise of the book is pretty creepy. It starts off as a survival game with everyone in the wilderness. As time goes on and a trap set by those running the game is activated, things shift and it becomes a different kind of survival game.
The protagonists are pretty interesting, with down on their luck backgrounds. Fujiki took a while to grow on me, but I liked his tenacity and cleverness. While Ai gives good advice at times, she mainly stays in the background, letting Fujiki make most of the decisions. The other players all have unique personalities, though you don't see much of them.
Fujiki and Ai encounter the other players at the first checkpoint and you're given a quick introduction of all of them.Read more ›
I loved this book because there wasn't one wasted word - everything hurdled you towards further gruesome discoveries and psychological cracks. A great read.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Anyway, this is a fun, creepy, quick read. I will definitely read anything else translated into English by this author.
But this one definitely caught and held my attention. Not only did I read it everywhere I possibly could (including while I was getting my hair done, only to pause briefly to explain to my salonist what the book was about). I even pulled an all nighter because I had only 2 chapters left to read and would probably not be able to sleep that night without giving in to my curiosity.
The book, like many other reviews say, is certainly along the same lines as Battle Royale. Normal people are put into a survival game situation where its kill or be killed. But this book, to me, seemed much more twisted then Battle Royale was. Where in Battle Royale, kids were simply handed weapons and told to kill each other, some of these contestants were continuously drugged, fed hallucination meds, and set upon by poisonous snakes. And where Battle Royale, the kids that went over to the 'dark side' merely looked a bit more ragged then they had started off as, Labyrinth's contestants ended up as nightmarish ghouls that I must admit gave me very frightening dreams after reading it.
All in all, a great read! I definitely suggest it to anyone who enjoys thrilling adventure. (I've already lent out my copy to one of my coworkers)
SPOILER!!! DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE BOOK!!
To me, Labyrinth's only fault lies in the ending. I was all set up for some phenomenal ending which showed Fujiki facing off against his captors (and maybe an explanation of sorts). But all I received was a page worth of bland guesses from his friend-turned-detective and a few interesting theories by Fujiki about Ai's part in the game. I would have loved to see some more concrete evidence as to who the game masters were, why they were doing this, if this was the first time they'd done this sorta thing with real people, and so on. The ending that I pieced together by vague guesses was sort of unsatisfying.
What do you get when you cross "The Most Dangerous Game" and Battle Royale? You get The Crimson Labyrinth, Yusuke Kishi's first novel translated into English. While it's a bit over the top at times, it's well-written and readable.
The plot: a man with amnesia wakes up in a gully. Next to him is food, water, and a handheld game machine. Confused, he starts wandering until he meets up with another person, who is similarly suffering from amnesia and carrying the same provisions. Eventually, the two of them find others, and when all are gathered, they discover they're all trapped in some sort of reality TV-style game from which only some-- or one-- can emerge. They break into teams and, given hints by their game machines, begin playing cat-and-mouse with the other teams.
It's genre writing in the sense that if you like this sort of thing, you're going to like this novel, but I think-- like both "The Most Dangerous Game" and Battle Royale (the book, not the aggressively mediocre film produced from it)-- The Crimson Labyrinth transcends simple genre writing in that Kishi writes strong, believable characters who have three dimensions, and does so without ever letting up on the action. He gives us an excellent, if a tad unbelievable, setting (though for all I know it really does exist) and then tosses these believable characters into it and lets them run wild. Good stuff, this. ****
This is possibly the creepiest, yet most fascinating, book that I have ever read. The horrors of this book just keep piling up. Even the most jaded horror fic reader might find something new in this.
Continuing comparisons to Battle Royale, there is not nearly as much intimacy as there was to the students who were told to kill each other. Only the point of view belonging to our main character is considered. Part of the horror is due to the way that pieces are revealed one by one, and the worst things that humans can do to each other are not shown until deep into the story.
Worse, this could be reality. Though at the beginning, they are informed that the game is held on Mars, it becomes clear very soon that this is Earth, and other people - humans just like them - are the ones who are doing this. I could not put this down until I read the whole thing, and I shivered through the entire book. Unlike Battle Royale, there is no redemption at the end.
I was unable to put down the book, seeming to always be on a cliffhanger. The psychological horror to this novel hooked me quickly and did not let go until the character's ride was over.