My brother gave me All You Need is Kill as a Christmas present, and I was immediately intrigued and excited to read it. I knew the book had recently been made into a film starring Tom Cruise, so knew that it was an action/sci-fi (one of my favourite genres). The film, which I have not seen, has been renamed Edge of Tomorrow, and after reading the book I’ve realised that’s not all they have changed.
All You Need is Kill is written by a Japanese author, and is set in a future version of Japan. The main character of the book is – you guessed it – Japanese. Tom Cruise, who portrays this character in the film, is definitely not Japanese! This has made me extremely weary about watching the film, because when a film adaptation of a good book changes dramatically, it really does disappoint me (If I do watch the film, I will write about it at the end of this post with my thoughts).
Anyway, on with the book review. All You Need is Kill is set sometime in the future, where the entire world is in the middle of a long, drawn-out war. However, this time, the human race is united in its common enemy; an alien race dubbed the ‘mimics’. We learn in the book that the mimics are terraforming creatures from another star system, who “emerged from the sea after coming in contact with starfish and frogs”. In essence, they are able to adapt to the environment they initially encounter, and mimic the appearance of the first creature they contact (starfish and frogs).
But that’s not all, they consume the environment around them, and transform it into a habitat which they can sustain. All water, vegetation and earth they come into contact with becomes an unsustainable poison wasteland for humans; the mimics are killing all life on Earth.
***Read with caution: spoilers below***
A 5 year war ensues. We enter the story as told by Keiji Kiriya, a Japanese soldier on the front line, about to go into battle for the first time. He takes us through his last day of training and preparation, where he encounters the “Full Metal Bitch”, a US special forces soldier, and a legend with the record for killing the most mimics. Her presence means the threat of the mimics is serious. Kiriya begins to doubt his capabilities. We follow him into battle, and we are with him when he dies.
And then he wakes up. It was just a dream, and Kiriya shakes and it off and starts (again) to prepare for the upcoming battle. But his day follows a similar pattern to his dream – almost too similar – had Kiriya had a vision the night before?
He goes into battle…he dies.
He wakes up. He dies.
He wakes up. He dies.
He wakes up and he dies, over and over again.
It’s the ultimate nightmare; one with no escape. Kiriya has no choice but to continue in this manner, but it has its advantages; each time he becomes more skillful and more prepared for what it to come – but is it enough to free him from this time-loop?
Giving you all the details would spoil the fun, and All You Need is Kill really is a joy to read. Other reviewers have commented that the book is jaring in places and not a particular ‘flowing’ narrative – some have put this down to the translation – but I didn’t find it irksome or a distraction. True, it’s not going to going to win any awards for literature, but the style of writing seemed fitting for Kiriya’s narration.
If you’re anything like me you’ll finish this book easily in a couple of days, but you’ll be left wanting more. I’ll give you a word of warning here – the ending’s not the easiest to understand. It’s very fast-paced and you might find yourself having to re-read a few paragraphs to try and understand what happened so quickly, but for me, that’s part of the charm of the book.
If you like sci-fi, this definitely is a book I’d recommend. If you’re more of a fan of flowing, beautifully-written literature and descriptive character development – you’re probably not going to enjoy All You Need is Kill.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below. Spoilers about the film, End of Tomorrow, will not be appreciated (please don’t be that person).(3 / 5)