Book Review: The Kaiju Preservation Society

  • Author: John Scalzi
  • Release: 15/03/22

Overview

The Kaiju Preservation Society is a quick There and Back Again style romp to an alternate Earth where the titular KPS are tasked with their namesake. That is, researching and protecting Godzilla-like behemoths while doing their best to retain all limbs in the process.

Easy enough.

Being laid off during COVID 19 has Jamie Gray down on his luck. While making ends meet delivering takeaway in New York, he stumbles into an out of this world job opportunity through an old acquaintance. To pay his rent, Jamie must travel to an alternate dimension via a nuclear reactor in Greenland. Then he must help care for the hundred-meter-high monster inhabitants of this hidden Earth. The state of the economy is grim indeed.

Shockingly, Kaiju are not the easiest of wildlife to preserve. Expeditions regularly turn into life-or-death affairs. Dropping pheromones from helicopters to incentivize gargantuan creatures to mate, or being overrun by angry overgrown tree crabs are all in a day’s work in this new world. Everything here is out to, if not kill you, at the least eat you.

Review

Scientists and other very smart people form the cast of TKPS, as it goes with most expeditions. Jamie muses that he may be the only human on the planet lacking a doctorate (and that’s okay, he’s here to lift things). Scalzi goes heavy with his trademark humor and witty dialogue, with pop culture references aplenty. A character being called out for ripping the name of their interdimensional travel device from Doom Eternal was a particular highlight.

Dialogue between PhD holding millennials flows as naturally as dialogue between PhD holding millennials generally does. Confidently nerdy, and just the right amount of awkward. Physicists looking down their nose at chemists and biologists rings true to life. Thankfully, the novel never hits Big Bang Theory levels of cliché. While we don’t spend a lot of time with them, the characters feel natural and bring charm to the setting.

Ditching a darker, heavier piece that he was working on in 2020, author John Scalzi describes The Kaiju Preservation Society as a much needed pop song after a very exhausting pandemic. While rarely a surprise (the antagonist behind the plot can literally be seen coming from a planet away), the story moves along at a steady and familiar cadence. This isn’t a bad thing here. Sometimes knowing the words in advance helps, like when belting out Total Eclipse of the Heart at karaoke night. Before conflict even begins, Jamie has the foresight to call out that his journey will explore the tried and true. Who are the real monsters here? (Hint: it’s always humanity).

Want to explore?

The Kaiju Preservation Society is unabashed and unashamed of what it is, a whole lot of fun. Don’t come in expecting hidden, philosophical moral conundrums. Everything here is openly on display. However if, post-Avatar, you’re looking to explore an uncharted world, get up close and personal with nuclear fueled kajiu and watch as the stakes rise until the future of two worlds (or at least a small chunk of Canada) hang in the balance, The Kaiju Preservation Society is well worth the pickup.

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