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The Crimson Labyrinth [Paperback]

Yusuke Kishi , Camellia Nieh
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 31 2006
From a rising new star of horror comes a killer read that will make you lose track of time and reality. The Crimson Labyrinth is a wicked satire on extremist reality TV in the tradition of The Running Man-if that indeed is what it is. Welcome to THE MARS LABYRINTH where things aren't what they seem. Welcome to the world of Kishi, where the plot is as gnarly as the humor is twisted.
When an unemployed former math major wakes up one day, he wonders if he's somehow ended up on the red planet. The good-looking young woman with aid-she says her name is Ai and that she draws erotic comics for a living-seems to have no clue either as to their whereabouts. Their only leads are cryptic instructions beamed to a portable device. Has the game begun?
There is no reset button, no saving and no continue-make the wrong move and it's really GAME OVER. In the cruel world of THE MARS LABYRINTH, mercy and compassion are only for the weak or the very, very strong. The stakes are nothing less than your life-and apparently a lot of money.
If you're a fan of Lost or Battle Royale, don't miss this one.

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Product Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy Survival Game Oct. 8 2013
By Jessica Strider TOP 500 REVIEWER
Pros: creepy premise, interesting characters

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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly pulp Jan. 27 2008
Yusuke Kishi's Crimson Labyrinth is an engaging exercise in psychological and physical extremes. The narrator finds himself and a bunch of strangers in something called The Mars Labyrinth wherein they must first cooperate and then fight to be the lone survivor. They're all given different survival tips and goods and then the terror and craziness begin. It sounds, from my description, a lot like Battle Royale but while they're in the same sub-genre they're two very distinct books.

I loved this book because there wasn't one wasted word - everything hurdled you towards further gruesome discoveries and psychological cracks. A great read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! Jan. 28 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I too have read Battle Royale, and several other Japanese books that were translated into English - Parasite Eve, Ring, and Dark Waters. Of all of these, I feel that The Crimson Labyrinth was the best. It kept my attention completely, I read it quickly over a few hours and could not put it down. I did enjoy Battle Royale a lot too. Another reviewer wrote that it seemed like a rip-off of BR, but I don't agree at all. Of course the themes are very similar, but I think the writing is actually much better in Labyrinth and the mystery throughout the book of what's behind the game is what really gives this the punch. The motivation for the game to me was far more realitic than that of the one in BR.

Anyway, this is a fun, creepy, quick read. I will definitely read anything else translated into English by this author.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could Not Put It Down July 25 2010
By QuietMyth26 - Published on Amazon.com
I had begun to doubt whether I'd ever read a book that would hold my attention so well that I would be unable to put it down (Lately I'd hit a slump of bad/dull/cliched books that I barely got through the first 3 or 4 chapters before setting it down).
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)


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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting Read July 30 2013
By Votz - Published on Amazon.com
I found this book while trying to find books other than Battle Royale that follow the same thread of thought. This book gets going quickly, within the first two chapters or so. Unlike Battle Royale, most of the character's get more than just a name and how they died. I have to disagree with another reviewer who said that the motive behind the plot was left unexplained, it just isn't beaten into your head with a sledgehammer. Overall, this book is well written and beautifully translated, the few typos I caught were easily made ("Grave's Disease" instead of "Graves' Disease") and were not particularly jarring to the read.

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.
3.0 out of 5 stars Walk your own path July 8 2013
By S. Maire - Published on Amazon.com
I was drawn to The Crimson Labyrinth by the strong reviews and notes elsewhere declaring it a cult classic. Yes, in many ways it is Battle Royale redux. Then again, was not Battle Royale Lord of the Flies redux? Remove a person or persons from the restraints of society and consider what happens to them. At this level, The Crimson Labyrinth does well. The story is well plotted and Fujiki's character well developed. The translation is very good keeping the book fast paced.

What is missing is motive. Kishi has a great story, but the story behind the story of why the game is played, who is arranging it, why Fujiki or the others were selected is all missing. In the end, what is here as a story seems incomplete because of what is not here.
4.0 out of 5 stars It appealed to me...wish it was longer Feb. 13 2013
By RKOFANT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
******Spoiler free

If you are a fan of the twilight zone and dark mysteries you may enjoy this book. There were aspects that reminded me of battle royale/running man/hunger games. When I talk to people about this book I find myself focusing on a few main points that really grabbed me. With this in mind I might be giving the book too much credit, but if you like books about people trying to survive against a backdrop they don't understand you may like this. i would have liked it to have been a little longer, but I can't complain too much. Also, there were a couple things that reminded me of Ready Player One but I would not say they are the same type of book.

lastly I liked that the book did not get overcomplicated or try to overexplain. It would be easy to take the premise to some weird places story-wise but it remains grounded for the most part.
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