As is often the way with me, I got this book because of a podcast. Specifically Pop Culture Happy Hour were reviewing Edge of Tomorrow, the Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt movie this got made into, and one of the contributors – Glen Weldon I believe – said that it was worth reading this book as it was short and he implied it had a different ending.
So I bought the book, read a few chapters, set it aside and didn’t pick it up again until after I’d seen the movie – which was last week. I enjoyed the movie and so decided to read the book, and did.
A couple of decades or so into a global war with an invading alien race called the “Mimics”* Keiji Kiriya is a newish recruit in the United Defence Force (UDF). He’s a “jacket jockey” which is an infantry soldier in a powered exo-skeleton suit called, you guessed it, a jacket. We see him go through his day from waking up, through training, preparing for battle, fighting and subsequently dying in what seems to be a futile attempt to hold the Mimics back on the coastline of Japan. Did I say dying? Did I just give away a spoiler? Not really, as this is the premise of the book and film – we discover very early on that something is different about Kiriya, after that first death on the battle field he keeps going back, re-living the day over and over. So it’s a kind of Groundhog Day with aliens and war. We follow Kiriya as he tries to work out what’s going on, how to get out of the time loop, how to defeat the Mimics and what all this has to do with the near-mythic UDF soldier who crosses his path, Rita Vrataski, the so-called “Full Metal Bitch”.
OK. So first off I can say that both the movie and the book are fun and are different enough that if you’ve experienced only one (or neither) then it’s definitely checking out the other (or both). That said this is not a review of the movie, and I won’t be listing the differences between the two.
All You Need is Kill is a fun, pacy, quick read. It has a certain tone to the language which is almost noirish in its grimy, toughness that I liked. It suited the story. It’s not deep but we skid along on the surface so quickly that that doesn’t matter. The time loop business was not over-used – that is to say, it didn’t become overly convoluted in a way that made my brain hurt (yes Primer I’m looking at you!) but served the purpose of the story. It’s particularly effective that what we end up with is a battle-hardened, war-weary veteran in the body of what the rest of the world sees as a raw recruit.
Like a lot of SciFi at this level the logic of it all doesn’t bear too close a scrutiny but that’s not what you’re interested in. And if you are this is probably not the book for you. If you want a fun little romp with aliens and fighting and so on then it may be.
I’d have like to have seen a slightly more nuanced view of women in this book, which you could argue is misogynistic. I think it’s mostly not but in a teenage boy’s naive, “it can’t be sexist if the women are kick-ass fighters too” kinda way. Then again nuance of any sort isn’t really that much in evidence here.
7/10 – all you need is a better title.
(*not really sure what they’re mimicking)