Sunday, January 22, 2012

Books: All You Need Is Kill


"All You Need Is Kill," written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, is one of those military sci-fi books that can be boiled down into a one-phrase pitch: "Starship Troopers" meets "Groundhog Day."

In the novel,  protagonist Keiji keeps reliving the same day over and over again. That would be bad enough by itself; unfortunately, at the end of every day, Keiji also gets brutally killed in a hopeless battle with an alien menace. After several unsuccessful attempts to exit the time loop, Keiji starts training hard in his armored suit, gaining new combat skills from each failed battle. But can he ever learn enough to escape his fate?

It's a fun concept, and Sakurazaka pulls it off brilliantly. It would have been tempting to let all the temporal weirdness and military hardware dominate the story, but there are some nice character moments as well, especially when Keiji meets veteran warrior Rita Vrataski (a.k.a. "The Full Metal Bitch"). "All You Need Is Kill" is a breezy, short read, perfect for a winter afternoon, and gets the Shangrila Towers thumbs-up.

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