All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

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All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Buy All You Need Is Kill from Amazon.co.uk

Buy All You Need Is Kill from Amazon.com

Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A strong sci-fi concept - a grunt in a day-long time-warp cycle forced to face the same enemy until he can change his destiny - is not quite met by a strong writing, but this is worth the time of the genre fan.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 230 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 978-1421527611

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In a global war between humans and invading aliens, called Mimics, Keiji is a trooper at the beginning of his short career in the army. Despite his high-tech body armour, he's not destined to last long - he's quickly dead. But then he's quickly alive again, as somehow his life is rewound a day. It only makes for prolonged horror for the rookie, but it happens again and again. Each time he gets a better intelligence of what his destiny might have been - can he learn enough each time round to make a difference, and possibly break the loop?

This reads like a great mix of Starship Troopers and Groundhog Day, and as cheap as that mingling might sound it's an easy concept that works for this book. The first person narrative drifts from the time travel element to the battleground, to the people around Keiji - including Rita, an American female warrior who has some mythic, Joan-of-Arc quality preceding her. The book is also influenced - subtly, and nicely, by computer games - it's evident Keiji has a seemingly unlimited number of lives, and as he doesn't forget anything from one pass to another he can boost his training, confidence, skills and so on to finally hit the right buttons and succeed. Thankfully it doesn't read like a book-of-the-film-of-the-game.

If anything the book doesn't quite get the most out of its concept - but don't ask me how the story could have progressed differently. The style is a little on the average side, to be honest - that might be the translation. There is a sense of nothing being fabulously original - the global language used by many characters, the mecha armour, the training camp scenes... But there is freshness to be had on occasion - I liked the Mimic's weapon, and their raison d'etre when we get to it - and the half-way twist was something I should have seen coming, but was all the better for me not doing so.

It's a pleasant and enjoyable read, which passes in a couple of brisk hours. The writing might not get the most out of the first-person style, and there should be more empathy with our hero, but his destiny is well worth exploring for the fan of modern sci-fi.

I've not come across any such Japanese genre fiction in prose form - yes, there's no end of manga for its fans - and so I'll be very interested in the rest of Haikasoru's output, as they're a house coming fresh to me with an entertaining beginning. I thank them for my review copy.

We at the Bookbag enjoyed the concepts found in the short stories in Wireless by Charles Stross.

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