Synospsis: When the alien mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally - the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji's escape or his final death?
First Published: 2004
English Translation Published: July 21, 2009
Published By: Haikasoru
Number of Pages: 200
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSS! THIS BOOK IS SO AWESOME!
I've never read any Japanese science fiction novels before but if All You Need Is Kill is any indication of their quality and originality, then I definitely need to be reading MORE of them.
Most people are familiar with the film adaptation of this novel, Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. I watched the movie before reading the book, and while I love the movie, I liked the book a lot better (of course.)
All You Need Is Kill is a perfect science fiction story. Perfectly paced, it has just the right balance of alien-fighting action and more subtle moments that humanize the characters. Rita Vrataski AKA the Full Metal Bitch is one of the most badass female characters in any sci-fi book I've yet to read. She's capable, stoic, and a total killing machine, a woman with a taste for war. Yet she never comes across as the cliched Strong Female Protagonist - she feels like a real person. I love how the gender dynamics are flipped in the story and Keiji looks to Rita for guidance, both on the battlefield and off. They treat each other like true equals and I cannot tell you how refreshing that is.
Another thing I love about this story is how it deals with time travel - a plot device that I love. Sakurazaka handles the time paradoxes masterfully - he gives just enough scientific detail for time travel to make sense but not enough to confuse the reader. I would say that this novel ranks up there with some of my favorite time travel novels like 11/22/63 and The Shining Girls.
And let me just tell you about the writing - it's gorgeous. You would think a sci-fi action story would be the last place you would look for lyrical sentences but All You Need is Kill is full of them. The opening pages where Keiji is on the battlefield for the first time are captivating in their detail and beauty, capturing war in all its ugliness and devastation.
If you love science fiction, you have to read this book. Even if you've seen the movie, read it! The book and the movie are very different stories to the point where the endings are completely different. Do yourself a favor and set aside an afternoon to read All You Need is Kill. You won't be disappointed.