The Ninjabot

All You Need Is Kill Review: The Original Edge Of Tomorrow

Posted on December 30, 2013 at 7:00 am by Victor Chaves

All_You_Need_Is_KillAn original novella by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, All You Need Is Kill revolves around Keiji Kiriya, a man sent to battle an alien species called “Mimics” located off the coast of Japan. Since it’s his first real battle, he predictably dies minutes after landing, waking up again the day before the battle to fight it all over again. It doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s caught in a loop, and the only way he can break out is by honing his abilities enough to survive. Sound familiar? That’s because the story is currently being adapted into the upcoming Tom Cruise film, Edge of Tomorrow (not as cool of a name).

The Summer Movie Book

I’m not surprised All You Need Is Kill is going to be a summer movie since this 200 page story is full of the sort of gratuitous action and juvenile idiosyncrasies common to summer movies. You can tell that author Hiroshi Sakurazaka loves action movies and video games, and he knows how to cater to that audience. The story blazes along at a strong pace, showing you what Keiji has learned and how he changes each subsequent battle. There are in-depth sequences that detail weapons and why they are or aren’t suited for killing Mimics, and the battles themselves are dripping with descriptive sentiments of shells whizzing overhead and Javelins (Mimics’ weapons) drilling holes into people’s bodies. If you enjoy any kind of summer action movie, you’re going to love this book.

Aside from the excruciatingly detailed battles and weaponry, the story is pretty fun. The way Kenji interacts with people gradually changes as he goes through each successive trip through the loop. Where first he empathizes with an anxious comrade, he offers no condolences the tenth time around. The story also plays with different results and events, a la Groundhog Day, sometimes with something as simple bumping a food cart, which somehow ruins the platoon’s lunch. The daily manipulations are often way more complicated, and it’s entertaining to see how a seemingly innocuous occurrence can have a ripple effect on events.

Supporting Characters Make This Shine

While the world-building is done well, using details from around the world to explain what the Mimics are and why they attack specific areas, Keiji himself is actually relatively uninteresting. He doesn’t have any real personality, and the only time the story shows him evolving as a character is near the end. There’s not much to say about Kenji—I didn’t like or dislike him at all. He doesn’t share any emotion with the reader, and his growth isn’t communicated very well. Although it makes sense for him to be cold and calculating after looping several times through the same events, he kind of starts out that way, which makes him a difficult character to relate to. Considering how short the story is,  Sakurazaka focuses too much on the action and not enough on his protagonist.

Unlike Keiji, the rest of the supporting players are pretty entertaining. They do the same exact things in every loop, but Kenji’s interactions with them change, which in turn changes how they react. It’s actually a very clever device for allowing us to learn more about the other characters, even though Kenji’s living through the same day over and over. Rather than getting mere surface interactions, each time around we discover that there’s more to Kenji’s relationships with these people than what’s readily apparent on the surface.

Overall Impressions: B

A small issue I have with All You Need Is Kill is the weird attempt to be “edgy” throughout. People randomly call each other bitches, swearing like a teenage kid on Xbox Live. Overly-aggressive phrasing like “Full Metal Bitch” really doesn’t fit with the tone of story, and it’s more jarring than anything. My guess is that something was lost in translation, and truth be told I wasn’t a fan of it.

All You Need Is Kill should be called All You Need Is A Few Hours because you’re going to blaze through the book with a smile. Besides the weak main character, the odd use of coarse language, and the somewhat slow middle (you’ll know it when you get to it), the rest of the book is fantastic. There are plenty of twists, the supporting characters are fun to learn about, and the entire story makes for a very solid tale. I predict that Edge of Tomorrow will be a good summer action movie as long as the supporting characters stay interesting. Until that’s in theaters, I whole-heartedly suggest buying All You Need Is Kill and giving it an afternoon.

You can follow Victor on Twitter at @fake_brasilian to hear about how he hopes to never ever watch any more Sword Art Online ever again.

Below is the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow, but be warned that it may spoil the book for you.

    Sharing the Legacy on Flickr

    See all photos