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After finishing this book AND reading the end interviews in the edition of the book I had, all I can say is… WOW. I did NOT expect a happy ending by any means but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt so satisfied by an ending. Reminder, thar be spoilers.

Noriko, Shuya and Shogo are still teamed up as the students around them battle one another or straight up implode. And by “implode” I am directly referring to the events which take place in the lighthouse; where Yukie Utsumi and her friends have hunkered down. Yukie is a great character, managing to wrangle five of her friends to ally with her; Yuka Nakagawa, Satomi Noda, Chisato Matsui, Haruka Tanisawa, and Yuko Sakaki. This group finds Shuya injured and nurse him back to (comparative) health. Yukie is in love with Shuya and convinced her friends to let him stay, albeit under lock and key. Who can blame them, really.

Yukie is the class representative, which in Japan means you are in charge of roll call, moderating meetings, and act as a liaison to the school counsel. She’s a natural, kind leader and you like her immediately. So, you pretty much know she’s gonna get dead.

Enter Yuko; a skinny, frightened thing who believes Shuya killed Tatsumichi in part one on purpose. If you recall, Tatsumichi came at Shuya, they fell down a hill, and the axe (Tatsumichi’s assigned weapon) ended up in Tatsumichi’s head in the struggle. Yuko was hiding in the bushes and this is the first death she sees upon fleeing the school building. As her little group is happily making stew with whatever happens to be left in the lighthouse, she gets it into her head that poisoning Shuya is the only option to protect herself and her friends. Yuko’s assigned weapon was a bottle of poison; some “half-transparent powder” that’s never identified.

See? Here’s the problem. She sprinkles the powder on the plate meant for Shuya and just sorta trusts in fate that nobody else will taste it. Yuka takes a bite, dies in twitching agony, which rightfully frightens the room full of hyper-stressed, paranoid, gun-toting teenagers. Hell, even if the poison made it to Shuya, the others would have been suspicious when his body started convulsing despite his wounds healing up.

Gee, Yuko, I can’t imagine why your plan didn’t work.

Accusations are made, shots are fired, and before you can say “Randomly spilling poison on shit is a bad idea,” Yuko is in a room full of dead girls.

When Shuya goes to investigate, Yuko continues to flip right the hell out and makes him chase her up to the top of the lighthouse where Shuya has to save her from falling from the ledge. As Shuya tries to save her at the expense of aggravating his injuries, she suddenly realizes she might have been mistaken in her assumptions and decides to let herself fall to die on the rocks below.

This scene is the most disturbing to me out of the whole frikking book. Things go so far south so quickly, you get mental whiplash; similar to at the beginning where all of a sudden two students are dead and the game haddn’t started yet.

I’m not gonna take  you through every death at this point. Suffice it to say Kiriyama runs amok til it’s just him and our favorite trio remaining. The final battle between our three intrepid survivors and Kiriyama is fantastic. I was chewing my lip as I read. You got a gun battle, car chase, explosions, and the final glorious moment when Kiriyama finally is out of the picture.

Shuya isn’t happy about having to really buckle down and kill someone but Kiriyama was a legit psycho. There was no reason, no rhyme, no pattern to Kiriyama’s behavior. Other’s could have been reasoned with to a certain extent, but with Kiriyama it was truly kill or be killed.

As for the end? Shogo, you ingenious bastard you. Turns out he was researching the collars since the last time he got trapped by this game and not only knew they were wired for sound, but how to disable and remove them. He fakes out Noriko and Shuya and gives himself up as the winner to Sakamochi. All of this is a plan to get Noriko and Shuya on the boat with him so they can take it over and escape. It’s a great plan and Sakamochi (if EVER a character needed to die) is killed by Shogo. Sadly, Shogo doesn’t survive long after the three of them take the boat.

The ending is exactly what you would expect from a totalitarian government that would make such a game in the first place; effortless spin. According to the government, Shuya and Noriko killed the winner of the game – Shogo – and the honorable government employee – Sakamochi – and are both branded as traitors and wanted fugitives. They vow to bring down a system where it’s acceptable to put kids in death games and make them murder their friends.

We end with the pair running from the cops. Two students remaining. “But of course they are a part of  you now.”

They sure are.

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