Title: Btooom! Part 1
Publisher: Yen Press
Author: Junya Inoue
A Sign Of Things To Come
Btooom! book 1 introduces us to a well used plot premise, that of a computer gamer having to play a game for real. The trick with these stories is to make the reader believe that the characters are actually feeling something during the story. If the author can do this then you start to feel involved in the story, because the characters feel real. The problem is that sometimes an author tries a little too hard and it feels like the characters are being forced down your throat. That does seem to be the case here. There is little initial warmth in the character so it is difficult to form a true attachment but maybe that is something for later in the story. Saying that the sensations of being in a real life or death game are made to feel real which is never easy.
The science and technological aspects in stories like these have to be balanced well. Too much and readers can switch off, yet if there isn’t the right level of explanation then the science and technological aspects can seem lost. Here the most important technology is explained fairly well with not too much information given before it is necessary.
I have specifically chosen not to be too detailed with character names and plot devices as to me Btooom! has a good start and I wouldn’t want to give too much information away. Saying that though, I can give you a good idea of the feel of the piece. It reminds me a lot of the beginning of Lost, with plenty of time given to the thoughts of who to trust and who not to. The book too, is not afraid to name check other titles to give the reader a quick idea of things. The book actually describes Btooom! as a Battle Royale type of game.
What this first book does really well is give hints that there is more to come, as initially it seems light on the levels of violence and fanservice (for a mature rated manga) but does give enough to suggest that plenty more of both is on the way. There is also enough comedy to keep things going. All in all this is a decent start with interesting aspects that could be developed well in future parts.