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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Groundhog Sci-Fi
In the film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray repeatedly wakes up and re-lives the same 24hrs over and over again. Each time the cycle repeats, he learns another valuable lesson about his life. All You Need is Kil by Hiroshi Sakurakzaka has a similar premise but instead of being set in Punxsutawney it is set on the muddy battlefields of Japan in the midst of a future war...
Published on 8 Jan. 2011 by Pablo Cheesecake (The Eloquent...

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly, the film is better
For me, if I'm going to read a book after watching the film, it's on e assumption that the book will be better. I liked Edge of Tomorrow, it was alright, so I wanted to learn more about the time travel concept, about the aliens, and so on; the film has primed me for more!

The book failed to deliver, and is pretty much a hollow shell that the film has massively...
Published 3 months ago by Spaceman Moses


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Groundhog Sci-Fi, 8 Jan. 2011
By 
This review is from: All You Need Is Kill (Paperback)
In the film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray repeatedly wakes up and re-lives the same 24hrs over and over again. Each time the cycle repeats, he learns another valuable lesson about his life. All You Need is Kil by Hiroshi Sakurakzaka has a similar premise but instead of being set in Punxsutawney it is set on the muddy battlefields of Japan in the midst of a future war.

Alien creatures called Mimics have landed and are attempting to invade Earth. Slowly they are attacking each country trying to discover where humanities weak points lie. Keiji Kiriya is a fresh faced solider who is starting to panic at the thought of his first impending battle. He has never experienced war. He has no idea of what to expect or how to react. His worst fears are confirmed and shortly after the battle begins he is killed only to re-awake back in the army base where he is forced to relive the build up to his death once more. Keiji quickly comes to realise he is trapped in time and no matter how he tries to escape destiny he will always end up on the battlefield.

We also get to see the battle from the perspective of an American female soldier called Rita Vrataski, known by all around her as the Full Metal Bitch. Rita is the quintessential warrior. She and her colleagues are battle hardened veterans and seem to be the polar opposite of Keiji and his friends. As Keiji relives the battle over and over again, trying to discover a way forward, Rita becomes the only fixed constant in his world.

Where this novel excels is by taking a concept that many readers will already be familiar with, in this case time travel, and adding an interesting new wrinkle. Instead of going forward or back in time great distances, the main protagonist is trapped in the same time period, forced to continue reliving the same moments indefinitely.

I was really pleased when I heard that All You Need is Kill has had the movie rights optioned. Though the story takes place in a small geographical area it reads as epic in scale, certainly something that would translate as a real spectacle on the movie screen. My initial excitement for a movie was somewhat dampened however, when I then read that the character of Keiji is going to be 'Americanized'. This is a great shame as some of the central concepts of the novel will be lost due to changes in nationality. There is an old samurai principle that is mentioned in the novel, `Kiri-oboeru' which means to strike down your enemy and learn. This sort of detail will become irrelevant if the character is no longer Japanese.

Another concern, while trying to avoid spoilers, is that the book ends on a bittersweet note. I do hope this isn't changed for the film adaption. I would much rather see a faithful adaption on screen than a schmaltzy saccharin sweet Hollywood happy ending.

The novel isn't terribly long, only around two hundred pages, so it's a quick read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys their science fiction full of action but with in-depth characterization.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly, the film is better, 14 Dec. 2014
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For me, if I'm going to read a book after watching the film, it's on e assumption that the book will be better. I liked Edge of Tomorrow, it was alright, so I wanted to learn more about the time travel concept, about the aliens, and so on; the film has primed me for more!

The book failed to deliver, and is pretty much a hollow shell that the film has massively built upon.

An example: in the film the aliens are these metallic, tentacled monsters, whereas in the book they're described variously as starfish and frogs. Now, I don't want to offend anyone who fears amphibians, but I think most of us agree (all in all) that big tentacled monsters are far scarier than frogs. Or starfish - the gentlemen of the ocean. I really liked he monsters in the film, here they just sound like a joke.

Another example: in the film, the main character goes from being a coward to being a hero, and a love interest starts forming with a meet cute that involves Oneida them exploding. There's not a lot of character in the film, but enough to put a couple of hooks in me. So I'm thinking - this novel will develop all the side characters, will put me into the Major's head and feel the fear pulverising him from the inside. Great, right? Nope, because in the book he's just a dumb grunt with no character arc and no romantic entanglements, and here's even fewer side characters!

Pretty disappointing.

The ending is different though, so if you do like the idea of killer frogs, and less character, I guess you might dig this? Different strokes for different folks I guess.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, 9 Jun. 2014
By 
George (Oxford, United Kingdon) - See all my reviews
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I'm not much of a book reader. I only came across this book after seeing the film (Edge of Tomorrow). But, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you have seen Edge of Tomorrow, the film only really borrows the central concepts from the book (war, aliens, travel back in time when you die), it doesn't follow the story line and leaves out most of the characters. So you won't be reading it thinking you know exactly how it's going to end. I found the whole thing pretty original and thoroughly engaging. Highly recommended!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting game-play sci-fi, 6 July 2009
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All You Need Is Kill (Paperback)
Presumably not by chance, Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel follows similar themes to Issui Ogawa's The Lord of the Sands of Time, also published among the first wave of Japanese sci-fi novels under Viz's new Haikasoru fiction imprint, but in reality the two books are very different in approach. Again the theme is one of using time-travel in order to combat the overwhelming invasion force that threatens to wipe out the entire planet. In the case of All You Need Is Kill, the time-travel is however on a smaller, more personal scale, but the outcome could equally be of global importance.

Here, one fresh Japanese recruit in the United Defence Force, Keiji Kiriya, is caught-up in a Groundhog Day style loop, seemingly doomed to fight and repeatedly die in a major battle with the Mimics that, like a computer game, is continually reset until he can build up the necessary fighting experience and find a way - if there is a way - to overcome the merciless onslaught of the strange mechanical amphibian creatures that threaten to destroy life on the entire planet. That experience might be found in Rita Vrataski, a young American UDF soldier of formidable killing power known as the Full Metal Bitch, but the Mimics are also learning new moves with every battle.

Much more dynamic and with harder-hitting writing than the Ogawa novel, Sakurazaka takes conventional genre and gaming elements and puts a fresh and entertaining spin on them, keeping the repetition of the loops to a minimum, finding new ways of moving the plot forward and keeping the viewer interested in finding the answer to this strange phenomenon. A good translation also makes the book highly readable and entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, fast to read, 20 Nov. 2013
By 
A. Cinca "ciuncky" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All You Need Is Kill (Paperback)
I was actually looking for something 100% unrelated and i ended up on IMDB's page for Edge of Tomorrow movie. I looked quickly through the description, searched for some artwork online (the movie poster is OUTSTANDING!) and that's how i found out about the book.

The book is very well written (and translated!) and has a quite fast pace that makes it hard to put down. It's actually the only book i've been reading at work during my breaks, otherwise i'm usually playing my PS Vita. I guess that says a lot.

Without spoiling anything, seems the alien race is actually called "mimics" unlike the name on Amazon's review/information, however this might be the way it's actually translated. The book has a nice way of dividing action in chapters based on different characters, with a short description of the situation before the "time loop" and then some later actions that ties into the main timeframe.

Would recommend to anyone looking for a fast SF read, that's not in a very far-away future and leaves spare space to align it into modern history and geography
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need is to read this book, 16 Jun. 2014
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book, 25 May 2014
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this faster than a cup of green tea!, 28 April 2014
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This story has been called 'Groundhog Day with guns', however it's a great deal more than that. The story deals with a lot of deep issues and the story actually provides a plausible explanation for the phenomenon experienced by the main character. This is a real 'thinkers' novel that will roll around your head for a while after you've finished reading it. Thoroughly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not 100% original but written well and somewhat thought-provoking, 13 April 2014
By 
K. Fearnley (UK) - See all my reviews
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If you've seen Groundhog Day the concept will be familiar, so you might not be expecting a lot of originality. On one hand it's just that plotline but in a military context - instead of repeating a day until the protagonist becomes a good enough person, they repeat it until they become a good enough soldier to break the cycle. There's an explanation in this one about how the cycle came about, so a little more self-consistency. There's the twist of someone else knowing about it, but not experiencing it.
It's also well written and gives a glimpse into Japanese history/personality.
It's a worthwhile read - also being short enough that the author resisted any urge to pad it out and make it epic in some way - it stands well as an idea worked out to a conclusion.
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4.0 out of 5 stars From pawn to player; history doesn't have to repeat, 29 Aug. 2014
By 
2theD "2theD" (The Big Mango, Thailand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All You Need Is Kill (Paperback)
Looking at my collection of fiction shelved in the living room (over 560), science fiction obviously takes up the majority of the shelf space (about 85%). My science fiction collection is general yet diverse: I have a mix of the old and the new, works from male and female authors, slim paperbacks and thick hard covers, the popular and obscure. But one facet of my collection which I'm most proud of is the growing amount of translated work:

* French: Monkey Planet (1963) by Pierre Boulle and Travelling Towards Epsilon (1976) edited by Maxim Jukubowski
* German: Metamorphosis & Other Stories (1971) by Franz Kafka
* Polish: Stanislaw Lem's Solaris (1961), The Cyberiad (1965), and The Star Diaries (1971)
* Russian: Moscow 2042 (1987) by Vladimir Voinovich and Metro 2033 (2007) by Dmitry Glukhovsky
* Japanese: The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1997) edited by John L. Apostolou & Martin H. Greenberg and Battle Royale (1999) by Koushun Takami
* Swedish: The End of Man (var. The Great Computer: A Vision and The Tale of the Big Computer) (1966) by Olof Johannesson
* Chinese: Frederik Pohl's collection Pohlstars (1984) includes a novelette called "The Wizard-Masters of Peng-Shi Angle" which was re-translated from his original "The Wizards of Pung's Corner" (1958)

On occasion, I scour the internet looking for translations of good novels or stories. When researching for Japanese authors, I always come across the same few:

* Kobo Abe's The Ark Sakura (1988)
* Shinichi Hoshi's The Spiteful Planet and Other Stories (1978)
* Sakyo Komatsu's Japan Sinks (1973)
* Taku Mayumura's Administrator (1974)
* Yasutaka Tsutsui's The African Bomb and Other Stories (1986)
* Masaki Yamada's Aphrodite (2004)

In March, I came across another modern Japanese author named Hiroshi Sakurazaka and his novel All You Need is Kill (2004). I downloaded a copy (and bought the paperback just yesterday) and eagerly awaited the opportunity to read it... little did I know that it would become a stupid Hollywood movie with a tool for an actor. That didn't dampen my spirits, however.

Book's own synopsis:
"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?"

------------

On the island of Kotoiushi, Keiji Kiriya is a foot soldier stuffed into a Jacket, and sent to fight a perplexing enemy--the Mimics--who he can barely fathom let alone defeat. In the opening seconds of the battle, his friend Yonabaru catches an enemy javelin through the torso, killing him; Keiji survives through most the horror of mangled corpses and the terror of the fighting, only to be fatally wounded. On the brink of death, a figment of military lore manifests itself in front of his eyes: the red battledress of the Full Metal Bitch, complete with two-meter axe and thirty for the death of all Mimics. The pain of his scorched impalement reminds him he's not yet dead, and the surreal coming of the Full Metal Bitch makes his head swim. Reality, as if testing him, becomes even more surreal when the red-donned heroine says to him, "There's something I've been wanting to know ... Is it true the green tea they serve in Japan at the end of your meal comes free?" (11). The American's name is Rita Vrataski. She, and the Mimic who comes to kill him, are his last memories before dying... and waking up.

Déjà vu strikes Keiji hard: the novel he awakes to, the conversation he has with Yonabaru, the ensuing events which lead up to a difficult morning of Physical Training, where he sees Rita and the other American soldiers. His memory of meeting her on the battlefield reinforces his courage--he stares down the legendary slaughterer of Mimics. The gull of the prone solider intrigues Rita, so she sets herself down next to him to engage in the same form of punishment: the iso push-up. This being Keiji's first iteration, his fate is sealed as he enters the battlefield and dies yet again. And again. And again.

The timeloops initially have a negative effect on Keiji: he suicides, he AWOL's, he kills. He keeps the experience a secret, but those around him only see a drastic change in his behavior from what they consider only to be one day ago; Yonabura tries to apply logic to Keiji's attitude: "The day after yesterday's today. The day after today is tomorrow. If it didn't work like that, we'd never get to Christmas or Valentine's Day. Then we be f***ed. Or not" (36). Regardless, Keiji maintains a sour disposition and adopts the "f*** it" attitude: "It's a f***ed-up world, with f***ed-up rules. So f*** it" (54).

So why do they both training us at all?

All that s*** they drum into you in training in the bare minimum ... Most unlucky bastards forget all that when the s*** starts flying and they go down pretty quick. But if you're lucky, you might live through it and maybe even learn something. Take your first taste of battle and make a lesson out of it, you might just have something you call a soldier. (62)

Eventually, Keiji realizes that, with the memory of each iteration, lessons can learned, information can be garnered and the cycle might possibly be broken without him dying at the end each time: "Just because I had all the time in the world didn't mean I had time to waste" (79), so "If I could train to jump every hurdle this little track-meet of death threw at me, maybe someday I'd wake up in a world with a tomorrow" (58). Keiji begins to utilize his time to become an unkillable figure like the Full Metal Bitch, acquiring skill and information which he applies on the battlefield, where he inevitably dies each time, only he lives minutes and hours longer than before. With each extra minute of life, he learns more about his enemy; Keiji reflects, "You can't learn from your mistakes when they kill you" (91).

Rather than make time his enemy, the intrepid foot soldier takes the world on his shoulders by accepting his daily inevitable death at the hands of the Mimics. The multitude of Mimics rise from the ocean where they had bred, each a dense barrel-sized sack of sand whose "single swipe of one of its limbs can send a man flying in a thousand little pieces. Their javelins, projectiles fired from vents in their bodies, have the power of 40mm shells" (8). The mere sight of them doesn't inspire natural fear nor do they roar with a bellow to fear their prey; "they simply hunt with the relentlessness of machines" (9).

When they first appeared on land, the alien xenoformers were not weapons of war. They were sluggish ... But like cockroaches that develop resistance to pesticides, the alien creatures evolved. The crèche machines that created them concluded that in order to fulfill their objective of xenoforming the planet, they would have to remove the obstacles in their way .... Mankind had a name for the enemy that had brought the world to the brink of ruin. (116)

They ate earth and shat out poison, leaving behind a lifeless wasteland. The alien intelligence that had created them had mastered space travel and learned to send information through time. Now they were taking our world and turning it into a facsimile of their own, every last tree, flower, insect, animal, and human be damned. (178-179)

Acquiring a two-meter axe like Rita, Keiji heads to each recurring battle with more insight, more skill, and more of a will to murder the mass of Mimics; "I bore the burden of endless battle like the killing machine I'd become--a machine with blood and nerves in place of oil and wires" (93). The outcome of each battle is as uniform as the nature of war: "there were three kinds of battle to begin with: f***ed up, seriously f***ed up, and f***ed up beyond all recognition" (92). Keiji found his looped life to be in the last category... until he realizes that Rita, too, has experienced a time loop; she has secrets on how to break the cycle.

Training together, feeding off of each other's honed knack for defeating the Mimics with slashes of the battleaxe, Keiji and Rita come closer to breaking his cycle of life and death. Yet on the eve of the 160th loop's daybreak, the cycle is broken and rather than heading to death on the island of Kotoiushi, the Mimics have brought the reign of death to the military base itself.

------------

I just want to say that I really hate the title of the novel--both the Japanese and English editions have the same title. The Hollywood version's title is no better, the title and actor of which I won't even allow on my review.

Many readers of All You Need is Kill have found the book to be difficult to follow, which is exactly why it comes with a handy plot sequence diagram to assist the reader in understanding the flow of events. The diagram will become your best friend when reading the novel, much like a soldier's rifle is their best friend--without the rifle, the solider is useless; without the diagram, the reader is helpless. The length of the novel--around 57,00 words--makes the looping and time shuffling more comprehensible.

As the diagram illustrates, the sequence of the story is non-chronological: the novel starts with Chapter 1 Part 1 (toward the end of the plot sequence), which is the battlefield loop, then jumps back in time to the barracks loop in Chapter 1 Part 2 (toward the beginning the sequence). Prior to reading each part to every chapter, it's reassuring to consult the diagram. It's quite easy to become accustomed to, actually.

Contrary to popular errant opinion, the novel is not only action, action, action and kill, kill, kill; humor is hidden is dialogue and insight is offered in Keiji's reflections. I took highlighted a number of quotes in my e-book (and I later bought the paperback) and found myself laughing aloud during a few passages.

The time loop Keiji experiences is, of course, the draw of the novel... a moderate challenge to the reader that enhances the sense of enjoyment. Perhaps is a gimmick, but the greatest satisfaction drawn from the novel is Keiji's diligence in garnering as much experience as he can rather than letting the loop get the best of him. Initially, he succumbs to the pang of expectation and suicides. Slowly, he realizes the advantage of the loop; with each loop comes an experience to learn, an education which he can take with him onto the next loop: he starts to train with the best, he finds breaches in security which allows him access to the American base, he learns personal details to get himself access.

Aside from Keiji's inspiring vigilance, Rita Vrataski infuses the story with heavier notes of characterization: from Pittsfield, Illinois and the daughter of a hog farmer, her father is a coffee connoisseur in a world where the supplies are quickly dwindling due to the Mimics' attacks. The local grocer always has a cache of exotic whole beans and Rita learns of the pleasure from the coffee's taste, fragrance, the total experience. When her town is infiltrated by the scout Mimics, most of the town is destroyed and her family is killed; thus, her motivation to enlist and seek revenge. During her duty in recapturing the peninsula of Florida, she finds herself in a loop and ultimately finds the solution to break the cycle.

It's not a deeply characterized novel nor does it plunge the depths of emotion (though the last few parts of Chapter 4 hit a good few notes of attachment, betrayal, and perseverance). The reader either comes for the action--and there's plenty of that--or they come for the gimmick of the time loop; either way, the novel is an alluring snare of a soldier's rise from cannon fodder to devil incarnate, from using training wheels to becoming Evel Knievel, and--most importantly--from pawn of fate to player of self-determination.

------------

Sakurazaka's only other novel is Slum Online (2005) about some quest in some video game. The premise doesn't entice me at all. So, while Sakurazaka's bibliography may be abbreviated in terms of English novels, there is still a shallow sea of Japanese literature available in English; notably, from the publishers Haikasoru and Kurodahan. Seems like, with the limited selection, I'll be picking up the pieces one by one for a long while... unless All You Need is Kill inspires a generation of writers to produce more Japanese science fiction. If not, I'll continue with reading American and British SF and dabbling in the translated scene.
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