While this book is short, Hiroshi Sakurazaka packs a lot of awesomesauce into it. The future setting with the mech warriors and a lingering war with an alien species that is technologically advanced creates this rich backdrop for the inner turmoil of Keiji’s repeatedly dented head. At first, Keiji just rides out the cycle, again and again. Then he tries to escape from it, like by leaving the base, etc. But then he settles into the idea that running away from those two days won’t get him out of this little hell. So, he starts training with the few veterans around. And that is when things start to get real interesting. He can only learn a few snippets each time, but over time they add up.
And of course, there is Rita, the Mech Warrior Bitch of War. Keiji first attracts her attention by staring too intently at the beginning of a loop as she entered the training yard during PT. Her sense of humor is dry and tough. Her fighting skills have earned her world and Hollywood recognition – complete with her own little action figures. Instead of surrounding herself with fans, she keeps folks at a distance. Until Keiji.
The book is fast-paced, full of nitty gritty soldier outlook and sometimes language, which feeds into the whole atmosphere of the book. While the number of females doesn’t equal the males in this story line, they are not sidelined or put there solely as sexual interests. If you have ever read Starship Troopers, most of the book is spent riding around in a soldier’s head and the aliens they are fighting are a background footnote. Same thing here – much of what I grasped about the frog-like alien race was inferred from the few snippets here and there. The ending was just as hard and brutal as the beginning of the book, yet satisfying in it’s symmetry.
The narrator, Mike Martindale, did a decent job, as most of the book is Keiji chatting with himself. He gave the ladies different and believable voices. There weren’t really any accents, even though this was an international force battling aliens. Still, pretty good voice for Keiji.