Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review: All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Publication Date: 2004 in Japan, 2009 in US


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?

Joshua's take: 3.5/5☆

Why I picked up the book: because I love Japanese science fiction and the book was recently optioned by Warner Brothers for a big budget movie.

Do you like anime? Are you a fan of dystopian science fiction where humanity fights endless waves of killer aliens? Does the idea of a book from Japan that reads like a cross between Groundhog Day and Aliens excite you? If you're like me then you've checked all those marks standing at the bookstore with a stupid grin on your face as you think about the possibilities. Can such an insane book live up to such odd expectations? It's fun to be a geek.

I loved ever minute of this book. Written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and nominated for the Seiun Awards (the Japanese Nebula awards), All You Need is Kill is a short read (about 200 pages long) and Sakurazaka's writing chews up every sentence as the dialogue bursts rapid fire off the page. There's no wasted writing, no drawn out explanations and exposition. This is just a quick, down and dirty read that will leave you feeling amped, as you move page by page, reliving the same day over and over as Keiji Kiriya does. Not all is perfect of course. I wish there was more background on the alien Mimics, and also how the other parts of the world have fared against the attacks, but some left out information is a small price to pay for a fun and quick read.

What soldier wouldn't give the world to relieve the same day over and over? Sure you would be privy to countless deaths as you witness your friends die over and over. However, while your body may not change, your mind would. You would get more proficient as a soldier, a veteran of countless battles even if no one knows. You go from rookie to veteran in one day. And you can use your knowledge to break the endless loop and hopefully change a losing battle into a winning one. And imagine you meet another person, a stranger, who knows what your going though, but you have to win them over each day since unlike you they don't repeat the same day. You would fall in love with the person, as you first meet them over and over, and they would have no idea. It's like a sci-fi version of 50 First Dates, but with more death and armored powered suits. It's just a fascinating concept, and you can imagine why an American movie studio such as Warner Brothers would be interested in optioning a Japanese book.

All You Need is Kill is released by Viz Media's Haikasoru imprint, and it's honestly one of my favorite book imprints. Haikasoru's mission statement is thus:

With a small, elite list of award-winners, classics, and new work by the hottest young writers, Haikasoru is the first imprint dedicated to bringing Japanese science fiction to America and beyond. Featuring the action of anime and the thoughtfulness of the best speculative fiction, Haikasoru aims to truly be the “high castle” of science fiction and fantasy.

Damn if that doesn't sound fantastic. I would recommend starting with All You Need is Kill and working your way through the rest of their catalogue. The only other book I've read from the imprint was The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa and it was equally awesome. You can find out more information about the book imprint by going: here.

So yeah, check out the book before the Hollywood movie makes it big in 2011. If your a fan of science fiction books touched with a tinge of cool, then you will enjoy All You Need is Kill just as much as I did.

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