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Book Reviews All You Need is Kill banner

Published on May 30th, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley


All You Need is Kill – Hiroshi Sakurazaka

After announcing a film was being made with Tom Cruise as the main character, I became interested in finding out a little more about this ‘Light Novel’ which apparently was able to interest the doe-eyed folk in Hollywood, but not the pouncing directors of the animé world, for you see, All You Need is Kill is a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, making the moving fairly unprecedented.

Concerning a future where starfish-type aliens are invading the planet, Keiji Kiriya is forced to relive the same day, the day of attack, again and again, each time with the slaughter of soldiers around him. In the same base camp, American soldier Rita is famed for her legendary prowess on the battlefield, dubbed the ‘Full metal Bitch’, she is a frequent in the relived days as a power-suit wearing hunter taking out swathes of enemy, or a discerning soldier back on base.

The novel mostly follows the main character as he tries to make sense of the re-occurences and endeavours to get better at fighting using the deaths as a way to learn. I suppose the best example without giving away lots of plot would be to liken it to Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers, with a bit of Source Code thrown in.

All You Need is Kill Manga

There was also a manga made, they made the starfish aliens look like this.

There is little to speak of in terms of language, Japanese is a pretty butchered language once translated and holds little literary value afterwards, unlike Russian. There aren’t many themes in the book, unless you include the most obvious, loss, discovery, love even. The biggest and most laudable part is Rita, who doesn’t suck and isn’t a complete counter-stereotype.

Rita is terrific at fighting, she hasn’t got a ‘Fuck-You’ attitude, nor is she meant to be some kind of astounding beauty, that’s pretty cool right? Well on top of that she’s all broken and stuff just like a battle hardened soldier ought to be, she even follows the Mako Mori test, meaning she has her own story arc. The film comes out today in the United Kingdom which I will be watching soon, I highly doubt that in a film with Cruise, any exec is going to be willing to shaft him for an awesome female character like Rita.

As the novel progresses, the parameter of expectations for the novel widens, eventually turning into a full-fledged Sci-Fi novel instead of a themed action novel, the characters are stylistically 2 dimensional, almost pulpily so and the main character is interesting, even if he lacks depth. At times it can be difficult to distinguish character’s aims, but the writing style; procedural, opinionated, id-driven, is addictive and enjoyable.

Straight after reading, I had my doubts, I was a little put-off by a few facets of the book. In one sense I like how animal the book is, in another, it confirmed awkward  suspicions about the books motives in having such a prominent female character. I read this a couple of months ago, opportunism inspiring me to write this review, but since then, it has become more fondly remembered.

The plot, characters and writing style of the book surpass all expectations, transcending traditional Japanese animé roots and cementing itself as its own thing, overall, it is a good book, even if it plays out like lengthy Philip K. Dick short story. 


I hope it’s good?

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