Summary from Goodreads:
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?
The scent of death is in the air. Your heavy boots sink further into the mud as you reposition yourself for the oncoming onslaught. At least you hope its mud that is caking your boots. For all you know, it’s the blood of one of your brothers. These bastards are relentless…these creatures. Mimics. They are called Mimics; you might as well call them the harbingers of doom. They are the destroyer of worlds. You are fresh out of basic and green as goose shit. Your Jacket is cumbersome since you aren’t accustomed to it. The heavy weight of its machinery bearing down on you, slowing your movements and this is one time where speed is crucial. You have none. You are moving at a snails pace, so it would seem. It’s a shooting gallery out here. You feel hopeless until…you see her. She is a legend of sorts, known the world over; The Full Metal Bitch. Her crimson red Jacket stands out amongst the gun metal gray Jackets of your comrades. She fights on your side but frankly, she can win this war all on her own. You are caught in awe of her when all of a sudden, WHAM! You are hit. A javelin pierces your armor and compromises it; you feel hot blood splashing your face. It’s your own. She appears again to slay the beast but it is too late for you. Soon, you will be in heaven, greeting Saint Peter. You have always been afraid to die alone so you call out to her. She is in a league of her own so what makes you think she will comfort you in your last moments on this God forsaken scorched Earth. She kneels beside you, her voice is clear as day, even with the roar of the battlefield going on around you. The world doesn’t stop just because you had to go and get yourself killed; “I read that the green tea they serve in Japan at the end of a meal comes free. THAT TRUE?’ Your eyes become heavy and you close them. Forever sleep.
You wake up to a novel in your hand. But how? You just died. The novel is oddly familiar. You were reading this yesterday. Exact same page too…. But…. It is yesterday. This is how you died the first time. One time down. 159 more to go.
Every so often, a book comes along that leaves such an undeniable impression on a person that you might annoy your friends and anyone else around you by constantly raving about it. I have a confession to make though; I only found out about this book because Captain Awesome himself (Maverick, Ethan Hunt), Tom Cruise, is starring in a film adaptation of this wondrous book. I found myself one day browsing his Wikipedia page like any good fan would and I came across in his upcoming filmography a movie titled, “Edge of Tomorrow”. My interest was piqued, especially considering his last film, Oblivion, was one of my favorite of 2013. I found out ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is an English adaptation of a book titled ‘All You Need is Kill’. The title alone was enough to warrant a closer examination.
All You Need is Kill is a book unlike any I have read. Its political overtones are subdued enough where some people might not pick up on them and the certain religious elements are the same. However, the grace, humor and violence seem to work hand in hand with each other and paint an elaborate picture of a man in dire straits. The war that rages on is not one just with the alien Mimics which have set their sights on Earth but is an internal conflict; a man against himself. Actually, the aliens could be considered a supporting character and are not the main focal point of the story at any period of time. That is one of the things that make this book so superb.
I have read countless alien invasion books and a vast majority of them read the same; aliens invade, lone hero with pitiful confidence must find his inner strength, cue romantic music for his love interest and a desperate situation for the leading man to save his damsel in distress, aliens are eradicated and the couple lives happily ever after. End Scene. After the same song and dance, this becomes a bit monotonous and I was always looking for someone to change the beat. Hiroshi Sakurazaka did just that with All You Need is Kill. In this story, we find our unlikely hero, Keiji Kiriya, a new recruit for the military, reliving the same day over and over and over again. It is literally a groundhog day from hell. Keiji is able to recant his experiences after each time he dies and can subtly change things the next time around. Each day he relives, he learns something and uses this new knowledge to live just a little bit longer before dying again. Lather, rinse, die. To the casual reader, that might seem like a recipe for monotony within itself but that is certainly not the case here. The world in which Keiji lives in becomes larger and more descript after each time he dies. At a certain point in this book I was picturing in my mind his daily routine as they became so memorable, even the most casual of things. This book makes you live his life and for a reader, what better gift can someone ask?
All You Need is Kill is not just one of my favorite books this year but one of my favorite books of all time. It is not a heavy handed approach to philosophy or politics but tackles various different themes in a very low key manner. That, to me, is a recipe for success. I do not enjoy being force fed someone else’s beliefs. This book is fresh and invigorating. The humor adds a new sense of life to this otherwise dark tale. However, every cloud has a silver lining, does it not? And what of the Full Metal Bitch? Is she truly what she is made out to be or is there something more to the Messiah of Mayhem? With exciting characters, a passionate story and a breakneck pace of a plot, this is a book I highly recommend to anyone.