Do you remember that movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? Do you also remember all those crappy ripoffs of that movie but take place during Christmas? Well, get ready for another ripoff but this time it’s a sci-fi version. From Japan!
Don’t worry, it’s actually rather interesting and MUCH better than all those “Christmas every day” ripoffs. Say hello to All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.
Keiji Kiriya is a normal grunt in the United Defense Force. On only his first battle he is killed by an unknown alien creature called a Mimic. He’s not dead, though He finds out he is repeating the day before and the day of the battle over and over again. He’s now trying to figure out a way to get out of that loop.
For a sci-fi ripoff of Groundhog day this is pretty entertaining. The events that transpire in the novel and how Keiji tries to get out are all pretty imaginative. Unlike those *ahem* other ripoffs the ways he’s trying to fix everything make sense even if they all boil down to “more training.” Another thing that makes this book stand out is that the characters are actually interesting. You care about Keiji getting out of the loop. You care about the Full Metal Bitch and why she’s so bloody awesome.
That all boils down to solid writing. One of the hardest things to do is to translate anything and still keep the essence of why people love it in the first place. Joseph Reeder and Alexander O. Smith have managed to do just that. Normally Japanese light novels and sci-fi novels read like they were translated by someone more concerned with translating than making the text interesting. Here is one of those rare instances where both have been achieved.
Not all is daisies and butterflies, though. Chapter three switches from first person to third person. This chapter is meant to give Rita Vrataski’s backstory.The thing is it brings the pacing of the entire novel to a screeching halt. This chapter makes it seem like Sakurazaka is adept at writing in the first person, but suffers from writing like a bored college professor when it comes to third person.
If you’re looking for a Groundhog Day ripoff that does not suck and does not take place during Christmas, then look into All You Need is Kill.The writing is solid, the characters are interesting and the events that transpire will keep you interested until the end. Don’t let the weak third chapter make you want to stop reading. The fun comes back in full force quickly. Also, at 200 pages you’ll finish this book in a weekend.