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VINE VOICEon 26 September 2013
It goes like this - I'd watched Oblivion and despite its flaws rate it as the best cinema so far this year (2013). I got the blu-ray and listened to the excellent commentary by Tom Cruise and Joseph Kosinski, which led me see what Tom was currently working on, which IMDB told me was a movie called the 'Edge of Tomorrow', based on a Japanese novel called 'All you need is Kill'. There was barely anything online for the movie so I checked out the book on Amazon. It had been translated into english. Three minutes later I turned the first page. It's not a long book, about 230 pages. I started reading Friday night, slept a couple of hours and started reading again Saturday morning. Finished it a few hours later. It was so good and so clever, my first impulse was to read it over again.

Keiji is a rookie soldier fighting for the Japanese army in a global future war against an alien invading force. A war now decades old against an alien enemy called 'Mimics', far superior than human armies. The alliance of nations have joined forces not only in combat but in developing technologies, the height of which are armoured 'jackets', suits worn by male and female soldiers alike, that bring them closer to the physical characteristics of the invading 'mimics'. Having been trained to the peak of his physical capabilities Keiji is propelled into combat for the first time and instantly fatally wounded. Realising he is going to die he makes a last effort to kill the nearest mimic to him. He is torn to pieces and then wakes up in bed, thirty hours before he died. He dies just as quickly that day too and wakes up in the same bed. Realising he has become trapped in a time loop Keiji determines to become the best soldier he can, so that he may survive and live out the day.

In a word: fantastic. There is of course a similarity in the structure to Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Source Code' but this book predates that. I wouldn't be surprised if AYNIK was the inspiration for Source Code. The quality of the story for me is that it introduces wild concepts to crank up the tension but come the end there are no loose ends. Everything is explained, our understanding of the time loop becomes a vital part of the ongoing story. The story has a real sense of humanity laced with the action and sci-fi. I'm not a sci-fi guy generally but this was so grounded in a progression of the human story, great action and character, there was not a line or page that wasn't totally captivating. The invention is just superb.

What didn't I like? Absolutely nothing. I did struggle to fully imagine the mimics - a cross between a starfish and a bloated frog - but that was it. All in all if you like sci-fi, time travel, action or originality, then check this out. Very highly recommended. Can't wait to see the movie.

I hope this was helpful.
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on 28 November 2012
Reading the blurb about this book I wasn't sure whether to give it a try or not. I was worried that it was going to be too far towards the `nerdy' end of the sci-fi spectrum. I don't like too much waffle about technical data, and things like the history of the design changes of the equipment used. Too many made up words for futuristic or alien paraphernalia just make the whole thing incredibly boring as far as I'm concerned. However, after reading the available sample I downloaded it straight away and loved every page of it.
The story is not really unique in any way. I suppose it could be described as Groundhog Day in a war against alien invaders. It is written in a way that makes it all seem fresh and original though. The main plot revolves around a Japanese soldier who dies in a battle and then wakes up to relive the last thirty hours repeatedly. Each time he goes through this loop he has the opportunity to try and figure what he needs to do and learn new skills and tactics to take on through to the next loop. He also discovers someone along the way who can sympathise with what he is going through.

It has been said that video games played a part in the idea behind the story and I can see how. You may charge into a video game scenario all guns blazing, only to get killed by a bad guy. But you can reload from the last save point and try again, hopefully having learned from the previous mistake... A bit like travelling back in time.
The alien invaders don't take over too much of the story. Just enough is said about them to know where they came from, what they are doing and what they are capable of. This is a good thing as it means you are in the company of the lead character throughout the book, getting to know him, like him, and feel sorry for him, itching to know what he is going to do next, and willing him to learn more about what he needs to do. It also means that there is not too much of the waffle with made up technical jargon I mentioned before.

When using time travel in books and films it has to be done well in order for the story to work. If it isn't then you risk the fan boys pouncing on every little detail and ripping it to shreds. Well they won't be jumping on this one. The theory behind the story holds strong and there doesn't appear to be any point where you may be left thinking something along the lines of, "Hang on! How did he send his own father back in time to become his father?", a la Terminator, (I know it's still a great film but hopefully you get my point).

As I was reading the book I couldn't help but think, "I bet they make a film of this." It turns out someone already is and it will star Tom Cruise (so it's changed already then, as Mr Cruise is not very Japanese). Hopefully, they do it justice though, instead of turning it into a dumbed down, "God bless America. Aren't we fantastic for saving the world yet again," load of rubbish. This book deserves recognition for being a clever story, not just a load of explosions, special effects, and a big name actor.
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on 13 April 2012
I heard about this book when Empire film magazine reported that it is being considered for a big screen adaptation. Wanting to read the book before Hollywood ruined it I tracked it down and bought it.

The book has taken me less than 2 days to read, by the standards of modern science fiction or fantasy writing it is quite brief. The basic plot resolves around an alien menace and mankind's ongoing war to stop their spread over the face of the Earth.

Our principle protagonist is rookie soldier in a Japanese unit of the Worldwide army and deals with his struggles against the alien menace in an interesting twist on the time travel idea.

The plot is focussed quite tightly on only two characters and moves along at quite a clip. Whilst we are given some back story it is only just enough to provide context and the main plot also confines itself to a limited scope. It is in this element that the book is most divergent from current trends. For those of us who read Peter F Hamilton, George R Martin or other writers of multi novel sequences where each book weighs in at 600 pages plus you're in for quite a change.

That said the book is extremely engaging tells it central premise well and I would imagine I'll be able to pick it up again in a years time and enjoy reading it all over again.

I assume this is a translated volume and if so it has been done very well, I didn't notice any errors or jarring language where translation may have lost the stories impact. On reflection I think it could make a superb movie if treated with a little care because there isn't a vast amount of fat to cut from the central premise.

But if I'm picky the book doesn't have the same value for money that some of those aforementioned writers do, so if you're a voracious reader like me it's a bit expensive on a bang for buck basis.

Overall this is great book an easy entertaining read and worth your time and investment.

Edit:

I have now re-read this book 3 or 4 times and still find it to be a satisfying if lightweight read. My most rereading of this book was after watching Edge of Tomorrow the film based upon the book. Apart from the central premise they are different beasts both enjoyable. I much prefer the books ending it has a slight darkness and steel to it that is missing in the popcorn sentimentality of the Tom Cruise movie.
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on 25 May 2014
With the Tom Cruise film due out I decided to pick up the book. I found it extremely well written and surprising at times. Well worth a read. If the film is half as entertaining it will be a blockbuster.
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on 8 July 2015
Keiji Kiriya is a young recruit in the United Defence Force. He's cannon fodder in a war against a merciless alien race of invaders. Over-matched and lacking combat experience he takes fatal damage and dies. And then he wakes two days earlier with full memory of his death.
Hiroshi Sakurazaka's military sci-fi novel is translated from Japanese here. And it translates pretty well. I don't know if its big screen transformation (Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt) is as smooth because I haven't seen the movie yet but I'll definitely take a look now.
I had a fun time reading this one. You'd think a sci-f story about a soldier endlessly reliving a couple of days that ends in a big battle would get boring after a few spin-cycles. These sorts of stories with a groundhog day angle can be tricky. Hiroshi Sakurazaka keeps things fresh though, never forcing us to relive things in a repetitive way but skilfully follows our hero's attempts to break free of his situation. Although you'd expect the narrative to be chock full of bomb's and bullets the battle is sketched over with more focus on Keiji's personal development and his relationship with the only other looper Rita Vrataski, the Full Metal Bitch being the order of the day. It's a shame that Keiji and Rita are the only fully developed characters in the book though.
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on 16 June 2014
fabulous book really well written, easy (and quick!) to read. totally recommended especially if you've seen or plan to see the movie edge of tomorrow which is also great!
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on 1 June 2015
I haven't seen the movie and have no intention to. They cast an 18-year-old Japanese boy as Tom Cruise (who happens to be white and in his fifties). How does that even work? So, no, that has ruined the movie for me. But I won't hold that against the book.

The book I quite enjoyed. I liked Keiji's tone and the way, after struggling with his new reality, he just got down to the business of making due. I enjoyed the Full Metal Bitch! God, do I love a warrior woman and I really appreciated the way everyone, Keiji included, was perfectly willing to step aside and acknowledge that she was the best at what they did. There's also a bit of a dark twist that I didn't see coming and, no surprise, I liked it.

I did think the world-building was a little weak, but it was enough to know what was going on. My one big complaint is that no one questioned what happened between Keiji and the FMB at the end. (Trying not to use a spoiler.) But it seems, if no one knew their predicament then someone should have had a serious WTF moment and no one did.

All in all I enjoyed the book a lot.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 December 2013
You could summarise this book as being a cross between Groundhog Day and Starship Troopers. Kenji is our main character and he is entering his first battle against the invading alien force. He dies and the re-awakens 30 hours before the battle. He is then forced to relive the battle again and again.

Soon to be made into a Hollywood Film (renamed Edge of Tomorrow and starring Tom Cruise) this is a short but intriguing novel. It tells its story well and gradually unfolds the drama of the repeating battles without going into each trip rounds the cycle. I enjoyed the whole premise and yes it might start like Groundhog Day but it soon becomes its own entity and all the better for it. I felt myself struggling occasionally with the usual paradoxes of time travel but the narrative and story are given a momentum by the entire concept that keeps you reading and hoping Kenji can find tomorrow. The conclusion is something I enjoyed and after reading this I'm interested in the film but also in the author. Sci-fi fans will be well rewarded by this book.
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on 10 January 2015
All the other reviews suggest that the book is much better than the film, which I normally go along with. However, apart from the slightly cheesy ending to the film, I actually think the film is better. The book is worth a read and the Japanese perspective is an interesting one but I prefer the character dynamics in the film.
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on 21 June 2014
So much better than the manga adaptation. The recent film starring Tom Cruise was also nowhere near as good, though different enough that I still enjoyed it.

It's fairly short so if you're after a quick but brilliant sci-fi read, this is the book for you!
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