Death is a hard thing to accept, especially if you are dying yourself. What if you die now and live again the same day? What if it happens again, and again, and again… and again. All You Need is Kill is one of those novels that tell you that being a hero isn’t as easy as it looks, and you have to die a few times trying to put that on your shoulders.
All You Need is Kill is an action military sci-fi light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. It depicts a recruit soldier named Keiji Kiriya who was conscripted into action by the United Defense Force against alien invaders called Mimics. With superior numbers, superior firepower and an ability to predict whatever humanity throws at them, all seems lost, until one day Keiji gets trapped in a time loop. He goes back to a specific point in time at the start of his war duty. Every time he dies, he goes back at the same point. He needs to resolve what’s happening, and it seems the only one that can help him is UDF’s strongest soldier called the Fullmetal Bitch, Rita Vrataski.
The story has been adapted to a movie in 2014 called Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise, with varying faith to the source material but a good job nonetheless. Let me tell you first foremost that this light novel is indeed an utter badass and others don’t even come close. The premise is very one of a kind and it can easily be classified with the more famous military sci-fi novels like Ender’s Game, Forever War and Starship Troopers. Keiji’s position in the story is the typical weakling hero that eventually learns his use in life through his struggles, but it’s hard to dismiss his perspective in the whole story. Stuck in a position he doesn’t want, failing again and again and dying each time and going back to the same day. Any normal person will get insane from just trying.
Characters are a valuable commodity for All You Need is Kill. While the plot is a wonder in itself, the characters are relatable, whoever they may be. They are the epitomes of their own problems, no matter how minor they can be. It’s easy to forget that Keiji is just a normal conscript while Rita has been through extraordinary events in her life. Both of them, together with their team, are akin to a suicide squad with no future whatsoever. With a sweeping juggernaut that knows what you are going to do next, their bleak existence, however long it is, is on a premium.
All You Need is Kill is a hardline novel that will put you on the edge of your seat. Unexpected twists come abound, and master storyteller Hiroshi Sakurazaka has given us an axe to grind our curiosities with. I wish there were more adjectives in the English language than the ones I already know, since the word badass is not enough to describe how crushingly great this novel is.