Sunday, June 28, 2015

Edge of Tomorrow by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Title: Edge of Tomorrow aka All You Need is Kill
Author: Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Rating: WARTY!

Read poorly by Mike Martindale.

Not to be confused with Isaac Asimov's The Edge of Tomorrow or a score of other novels employing this tired title, this Edge of Tomorrow was originally released as All You Need Is Kill accompanied by illustrations from Yoshitoshi Abe. This was not a manga, but there was a later manga adaptation released.

The novel was re-released under the new title to tie it in with the movie of the same name which was based on the novel. I listened to the audio version of the novel read by Mike Martindale. I have to say that the reading was poor, and the story wasn't very good, which might account for a tough reading. What, Simon and Schuster couldn't get an Asian guy to read this? Shame on them. Way to go big Publishing&Trade;.

The plain fact is that the movie writers got it right. I had a chance to see a sneak preview of the movie and was completely won over by it. This novel (or short story more like), on the other hand was less than thrilling because the author had striven so hard to make it sound so hard-bitten and tough that it was almost a parody of a war novel. Everything was exaggerated and bitter and it was such a laughably stereotypical military conflict story, that I sincerely believed I would not be able to listen to it all. It did improve as the story progressed, but nowhere near enough to make me consider this a worthy read.

The movie depicts the main character as an American, Major William Cage (named after the original character's nickname), who has no training beyond basic and who is frankly cowardly and happy to be the PR voice of the military. He's unceremoniously tossed into the front lines against his will. In the novel he's Keiji Kiriya, a lowly soldier in the United Defense Force, Japanese contingent who has basic training and is in an infantry unit. In both cases, on his first battle, the soldier somehow gains the ability to reset time every time he dies, and so after he's killed, he always wakes up on the day before the battle where he died.

Sergeant Rita Vrataski in the movie is Sergeant-Major Rita Vrataski in the novel, and is a US special forces soldier, but is otherwise the same person (except that she's British in the movie, not American), and the one highlight of this novel is how she is described and referenced throughout it. The novel doesn't have Kiriya linking up with Vrataski for the longest time, and even when they do, their story is different. He's a much more independent operator, although he quickly decides that she has the right idea, and manages to work out, over several lifetimes, that he needs to arm himself with the same battle-ax which she uses since the bullets in his little standard issue gun don't do diddly against the Mimic carapace.

The ending is different, too, and that's all the spoiler you're going to get. Had I read this before the movie came out, I would have had no intention of seeing the movie - until of course, I saw the movie preview and realized it was much better. I can't recommend the novel. I do recommend the movie which I also review on this blog.