All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
It’s official – I don’t live under a rock – I actually live under a full, huge ass mountain. A couple of weeks ago I bought All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. I was pottering around, jumping from one thing to the next, as you do, when I came across it, really liked the look, bought it and started reading and finished it within a couple of days. Of course, everyone else in the world has probably not only read this years ago but is also aware that it’s been made into a film that is currently showing at the cinema. Not I! No. Go on and laugh. I’m only too happy to bring the gift of happiness after all. Anyway, as I’m so late to this party that everyone else already went home, I’m going to use the description from Goodreads that gives a good idea of the content:
‘There’s one thing worse than dying. It’s coming back to do it again and again… When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many raw recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to find himself reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On the 158th iteration though, he sees something different, something out of place: the female soldier known as the Bitch of War. Is the Bitch the key to Keiji’s escape, or to his final death?’
I enjoyed this. It’s a really fast paced and quick read, entertaining, two good characters in Keiji and Vera, a couple of twists to the story and a strange combination of Groundhog Day meets Full Metal Jacket meets Starship Troopers – I’m sure that all of those comparisons have been used many times before but they are just so perfectly fitting!
Okay, Keiji is stuck in a loop, his life is a scratched record playing the same few words. He’s replaying the same day over and over again, basically, the last day of his life where he was killed whilst in a battle against alien monsters called Mimics. They’re maybe not the most advanced in terms of battle strategy but they’re difficult to kill and they have hidden talents! At first Keiji thinks he’s dreamt the previous day, then he thinks he’s a bit crazy followed by all sorts of attempts to break out of this strange situation until he eventually starts to use the time he has differently and this is when he finally becomes entangled with Rita, aka The Full Metal Bitch. Rita is something of a legend. She totally kicks Mimic ass and the sight of her storming onto the battlefield with her special ops colleagues is usually enough to lift spirits and turn a desperate situation around. Fortunately we do get to find out a little bit more of Rita’s background as she’s also given a few chapters in the book.
The only characters who really get any fleshing out are Keiji and Rita but this is all you need and the other characters are pretty easy to imagine. I enjoyed the writing – it’s simple but effective. I liked the explanation for the situation that Keiji is caught up in and thought it was a good concept. Basically, futuristic, military, sci fi and very enjoyable to boot. If you’d basically given me that description I probably would never have picked this book up! So, I am late to the party, I’m happy to have proved myself wrong and this is a fine example right here of better late than never!
This book counts towards an event I’m taking part in over at Dolce Bellezza: Japanese Literature Challenge 8. This is a very relaxed event and I liked the look of it – details are here – go check it out.