Book Review | All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

AYNIKIt’s over so fast, I almost flipped back a few pages to see if I had missed a chapter.

But no, I hadn’t missed anything. All You Need Is Kill sits you down, straps you in, and ignites a rocket strapped to your chair, and before you know it, you’ve finished, breathless and heart-stopping, palms sweaty and clammy.

All You Need Is Kill is the novel on which the forthcoming movie Edge of Tomorrow is based. With a cover that looks more like it belongs on the front of an anime-style graphic novel (in which I would have zero interest), I doubt I would have found it, let alone picked it up, but for hearing about it because of the film adaptation, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. I saw Cruise’s Oblivian last summer and was pleasantly surprised to find a sleeper film that wasn’t a rehash/remake/sequel/prequel/spinoff to some other franchise.

But if it was based on a book, I reasoned, I’ve gotta read the book first.

Written in tight, gritty, and succinct scenes, Hiroshi Sakurasaka’s novel is about one man’s existential battle against an alien foe. Keiji Kiriya begins as one more green recruit destined to become cannon fodder against the seemingly numberless minions swarming Earth’s beaches. Within moments into his first battle, Keiji is dead…and waking up, back in his bunk, the day before the battle.

Repeat. And repeat again.

It’s like Groundhog Day, but with scaly, multilimbed, javelin shooting aliens and heavily armed soldiers in armored exoskeletons. Sakurasaka wastes little time, and you’re half way through the novel before you realize that you’ve haven’t taken a breath since who knows when.

And then Sakurasaka shifts the action, gives background, and lets you catch your breath before driving on for the second act.

If Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow fills in half of what Sakurasaka squeezes into the 230 pages of All You Need Is Kill, it’ll be a killer film. It’s why Sakurasaka is my new favorite Japanese writer, and I look forward to finding out if he repeats the feat that is All You Need Is Kill.

A couple caveats. Because the writing in All You Need Is Kill is tight and the story just long enough to hit the novel mark, there are some gaps in the character development. There’s only limited depth to either of the POVs presented, and then that POV is driven heavily by the plot. Also, Sakurasaka can also be occasionally crass and foul, and not necessarily in a manner that contributes to the story. Watch out for rough language.

All You Need Is Kill Book Cover All You Need Is Kill
Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Military SciFi
July 21, 2009

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?

Now a major motion picture starring Tom Cruise.

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.