All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

SakurazakaAllYouNeedIsKillWhy I Read It: Crazy mech warriors and aliens? I wasn’t passing that up.

Where I Got It: A review copy via the publisher (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: If you like future weapons, mech warriors, and a time loop element, this is a great little book to sink into.

Narrator: Mike Martindale

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2013)

Length: 5 hours 25 minutes

Keiji Kiriya is a fresh recruit in the ongoing war between humans and the invading aliens, the Gitai, a species that vaguely resembles gigantic frogs. Sent to the front line in Japan, he completes his basic training and is sent out in his mechanized warrior suit, called the Jacket. Of course, he and most of the other newbies are decimated. As he lies dying, another warrior, Rita – who is notorious for her fighting skills and frosty behavior – approaches him, offering to stay with him until he dies. She then proceeds to chat him up about tea.

Then Keiji wakes up reading this mystery novel he was reading two days prior. In fact, it’s the exact same place in the book, with the same conversations going on around him in the barracks. Turns out Keiji is stuck in some time loop, repeating the same two days.

While this book is short, Hiroshi Sakurazaka packs a lot of awesomesauce into it. The future setting with the mech warriors and a lingering war with an alien species that is technologically advanced creates this rich backdrop for the inner turmoil of Keiji’s repeatedly dented head. At first, Keiji just rides out the cycle, again and again. Then he tries to escape from it, like by leaving the base, etc. But then he settles into the idea that running away from those two days won’t get him out of this little hell. So, he starts training with the few veterans around. And that is when things start to get real interesting. He can only learn a few snippets each time, but over time they add up.

And of course, there is Rita, the Mech Warrior Bitch of War. Keiji first attracts her attention by staring too intently at the beginning of a loop as she entered the training yard during PT. Her sense of humor is dry and tough. Her fighting skills have earned her world and Hollywood recognition – complete with her own little action figures. Instead of surrounding herself with fans, she keeps folks at a distance. Until Keiji.

The book is fast-paced, full of nitty gritty soldier outlook and sometimes language, which feeds into the whole atmosphere of the book. While the number of females doesn’t equal the males in this story line, they are not sidelined or put there solely as sexual interests. If you have ever read Starship Troopers, most of the book is spent riding around in a soldier’s head and the aliens they are fighting are a background footnote. Same thing here – much of what I grasped about the frog-like alien race was inferred from the few snippets here and there. The ending was just as hard and brutal as the beginning of the book, yet satisfying in it’s symmetry.

I enjoyed this book so much, I searched the internet for a sequel. Alas, there is not one. But Wikipedia does indicate there may be a movie in the making. Oh, here is something that says Tom Cruise will star. Could be interesting.

The narrator, Mike Martindale, did a decent job, as most of the book is Keiji chatting with himself. He gave the ladies different and believable voices. There weren’t really any accents, even though this was an international force battling aliens. Still, pretty good voice for Keiji.

What I Liked: The reader was quickly in the thick of it; You get to piece things together with Keiji; lots of cool tech; women warriors; nitty gritty and fast-paced.

What I Disliked: It was over too soon. I’m greedy and I want more. Or a spin off on Rita, the Bitch of War. She’s fascinating.

What Others Think:

Lazy Bastard Press

SF Signal

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