The Crimson Labyrinth, a novel by Japanese horror writer Yusuke Kishi, didn't really offer anything new. I was expecting a new angle on this storyline since The Crimson Labyrinth was a bestseller in Japan. In the novel, a group of 11 people find themselves to be unwilling participants in a game called the Crimson Labyrinth. The game requires them to compete against one another for a cash prize, forcing them to kill one another since there should only be one winner/survivor in the end.
If the storyline sounds way too similar to Battle Royale, well, it is, but with older characters. Kishi is an author that aims to shock his readers with narratives of cannibalism and extreme paranoia in a very hostile territory. Reading about the contestants eating one of their kind may elicit unpleasant reader reactions at first. But if this device becomes the main horror element in the novel, it just feels too drawn out. There's none of the supernatural factor that we've all come to expect and love in Japanese horror novels and movies. The novel disappoints big time.
In the end, Kishi doesn't even lead the reader to discover for himself all the unanswered questions the plot has raised. He simply explains everything, and none of these explanations can make you exclaim, "I didn't see that coming." Everything feels contrived.
Read this book if:
- You like J horror in all its forms.
- You think Battle Royale is the ultimate reality show.
- You're a game show fanatic.