All You Need Is Kill – Hiroshi Sakurazaka

“When the bullets start flying, it’s only a matter of time before fear catches up with a soldier.”

This is the book which inspired the movie Edge of Tomorrow. My version has been rebranded with the movie cover (totally inappropriate for the original Japanese cast list, of course!), and the updated title – although even the movie seems to be better known now by its former tagline, Live Die Repeat. I know – this is a book review, I shouldn’t be talking about the movie. But, given I really enjoyed the big screen adaptation (hey – Tom Cruise getting squished, shot, blown up, etc etc), and it was only that which brought the book to my attention, reading it was always going to be a comparison. Because the book’s always better than the movie, right?

Well… it’s not always that simple. The book has more genuine, believable characters, with more backstory, and offers an explanation for the invasion that I don’t remember being touched on in the adaptation. It also presents the whole ‘looping’ phenomenon with more logic (at least up until a point), albeit rather more complicated in scope.

However, the film has the advantage of the visuals, which can add so much in this genre: the battle harness rigs, the monsters, etc. The repetition of days is more easily presented to the viewer than the reader, as is the passage of time as the main character plays out his life like a video game, returning to the save point every time he fails a fresh challenge, learning the right moves from his mistakes as he goes.

While the book exceeds the adaptation in several respects, it’s not completely ‘better’, and ultimately I much prefer the movie – which is the second time I’ve said that recently, what’s going on?! In my view, the book didn’t manage to end as strongly as it had started, with the plot slightly unravelling (imo) as later events are told rather too abruptly to be fully satisfying. The movie also had a weak ending, but it also had a lot more humour before we got there.

That said, I’m glad to have had the comparison. Both versions have weak points, so it really is a case of pick your poison – or better, don’t, and experience both!

Paperback: 201 pages / 4 chapters
First published: 2004
Series: none
Read from 31st December 2015 – 1st January 2016

My rating: 6/10

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