I started reading All You Need Is Kill after a few friends recommended it to me. The only thing I knew about it was that a soldier dies and must live the previous two days over and over again.
I was extremely, pleasantly, surprised at the direction this book took. At just around two hundred pages long, I finished it in one sitting.
Summary: Aliens, known as Mimics, invade the world. The story revolves around [Keiji Kiriya] -- a raw, green recruit who is given a suit of battle armor, called a "Jacket", and is ordered out onto the battlefield.
Keiji Kiriya dies on the first day of fighting. The only problem is: he doesn't stay dead. At least, not in the normal sense.
He's reborn prior to the battle, gets sent BACK into the battlefield, and dies yet again. This cycle repeats itself a hundred-something odd times, but as he 'loops', he becomes aware that he CAN, in fact, change what happens each time he loops back in time.
Keiji becomes determined to change his fate of dying. During the cycle, and at different points during that cycle, he meets a legendary soldier, Rita Vrataski, whose nicknamed "Full Metal Bitch": a US Special Forces soldier whose supposedly a hardcore battle junky.
But like a true bad-ass woman, there's more to her than meets the eye. And it's not pink frilly dresses.
Rather than doing a lengthy review, I'll just hit a few high points that I really enjoyed.
Normally I am an extreme critic of science fiction medium: both with how the technology is used and WHERE it is used.
The technology in All You Need Is Kill felt very 'believable' -- a natural evolution of some military technology we are already working on today, such as Exoskeleton suits.
Character wise ---
I felt Keiji was, at first, a little flat -- he had his own ideas and opinions, but a lot of the beginning of the book is exposition. Showing, rather than telling. That rapidly changes as we begin to experience the looping cycle after the first initial one.
The true character who shined, however, was Rita Vrataski. She had a distinct, albeit slightly stereotypical bad-ass woman, personality.
But then again, when is a badass woman not just awesome? Well, if she started fangirling over dresses and her nails, rather than killing Mimics -- but thankfully, she NEVER does that.
Rita remains true to her namesake throughout, remaining as the "Full Metal Bitch" throughout the entire series. She takes no prisoners, doesn't hesitate, and delivers a can of whoop-ass where ever she decides to go.
The supporting characters ran from interesting-but-not-enough-page-time to flat-out annoying ( which you'll find the annoying one VERY early on ), but I know ACTUAL people like the annoying character, so I felt that the character was realistically portrayed, in that aspect.
My only real complaint, which was enough to dock a star, was that the pacing went up and down throughout the course of the 200 page novel.
We begin right after the initial deployment, in the midst of battle, and Keiji is already in a world of panic on a hectic battlefield -- then he dies.
After this, the pace significantly slows down as we get some exposition as to the 'routine' of the military base, who Rita is, who Keiji is, technology behind the Jackets, and the like.Then we're thrown right into the action again, and almost immediately, Keiji dies for the second time.
The pacing is that up-down-up-down narrative which quickly waned on my nerves, but wasn't enough to get me to stop reading. In some ways, many readers might actually enjoy the periodic break of quick-but-generously detail action scenes.
There was just enough detail to get a picture in mind, but never so much that it slowed down the action scenes. The details in the more slowly-paced 'intermission' were welcomed, but the thing that detracted there was that Keiji tended to ramble a lot in his 'inner monologue'. But we all tend do to that, even if subconsciously, right?
Overall, I really enjoyed All You Need Is Kill, and would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy science fiction or military-like novels.
PS: I didn't know until AFTER I had finished this that Edge of Tomorrow ( the movie with Tom Cruise ) was based on All You Need Is Kill.
....I don't know how I feel about that. At all. I'm kind of worried, after having seen the trailer, because some of it looks completely off from the image I had in my head while reading the novel.
Also. Tom Cruise? Really? I know he's not meant to be Keiji, but really.