Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi flick, Edge of Tomorrow, is not terrible. In fact, it is quite excellent and you should all go see it. The movie is based on a Japanese light novel, and although the premises of both overlap, each diverges to form two separate equally enjoyable works. All You Need Is Kill tells the story of Keiji Kiriya, a private in the United Defense Force, who is thrown into battle against invading aliens called the Mimics, who have ravaged the earth for 20 years. During his first battle, Keiji is killed almost immediately, but somehow, he wakes up in his bed the morning before the battle. Believing that he had only dreamed the first battle Keiji goes through the day again with a strong sense of deja vu, before being killed again in the battle even quicker. Waking up again the day before, Keiji realizes he is caught in a time loop and with a seemingly infinite amount of time on his hands, he vows to become the best soldier he can and defeat the mimics.
Keiji’s paths repeatedly cross with 19-year old Rita Vrataski, a soldier in the American special forces, who is known as the Full Metal Bitch. Wielding a gigantic ax, she has gained cult status for her battlefield prowess and Keiji seeks her out repeatedly to help train him. The book condenses the scale of events down a bit from the movie, with the action limited to the UDF base and the battle the following day. The time travel mechanism is also slightly different, removing the “Find the Omega” quest from the movie.
The traditional “War is Hell” theme is present, as can be expected, but Keiji’s first-person narration effectively gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of a raw recruit afraid of dying. The book also touches on loneliness, as Keiji finds himself increasingly isolated reliving each day over and over again, with only him the wiser. In the third chapter, the book switches to a third-person narration of Rita’s background, which provided the fourth and final chapter with extra emotional oomph.
At a little over 200 pages, the book never flatlines, yet at the same time there is plenty of introspection from Keiji, as the emotional toil of an endless war begin to build. The plots of the movie and book are different enough that moviegoers will not be spoiled or bored at the same events being retread.