Publisher: Tor (Trade Paperback – 29 March 2022)
Length: 264 pages
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Prepare to save all the monsters as bestselling and madly inventive science fiction author John Scalzi presents his latest captivating and funny novel, The Kaiju Preservation Society.
I have a lot of love for imaginative author John Scalzi, who is probably best known for his Old Man’s War and The Interdependency series, both of which make great use of high-concept science fiction elements. I personally first experienced the author when I read his standalone novel, Redshirts a couple of years ago. This cool and clever book served as the ultimate parody of Star Trek, focusing on an Enterprise-esque spaceship whose regular crew are extremely aware that something is very wrong as they keep dying in ridiculous situations. I had an absolute blast with Redshirts and I have been keeping a very close eye out for anything else Scalzi was writing. As such, I was extremely excited when I saw that his new book, The Kaiju Preservation Society was coming out this year, especially as it had such a unique and interesting plot to it.
As COVID-19 starts to run rampart through New York City, Jamie Gray’s entire life is thrown upside-down when his terrible boss steals his ideas and fires him. Forced to work as a driver for the same food delivery app he developed, Jamie despairs at his now dead-end life, until one delivery leads to a chance encounter with an old acquaintance of his, Tom, who works for a mysterious animal rights organisation. In desperate need of a new team member to help with their next expedition, Tom offers the job to Jamie, who jumps at the chance at a high-paying job.
However, Jamie is unprepared for just how unusual his life is about to become as the expedition first journeys to the heart of Greenland, and then through a portal into a parallel Earth filled with lush jungle, an untouched atmosphere, and giant mountain-sized creatures named kaiju. It turns out that his new employers, known as the Kaiju Preservation Society, specialise in researching and preserving these vast creatures, while also working to keep them from leaving their own, human-less world, and traversing the barrier to ours.
Enraptured by the strange new world and exciting opportunities they present; Jamie soon takes to his role as a member of the Kaiju Preservation Society. However, his complex and dangerous new employment is about to get even harder when strange events start occurring around camp. It soon turns out that others have found a way to cross the boundaries between worlds and they have designs on the kaiju. Jamie and his friends must find a way to stop these intruders before their carelessness destroys a kaiju and millions of people on our world.
Scalzi has done it again, producing a clever and wildly entertaining book that makes brilliant use of a distinctive and unique idea. I had an incredible time reading The Kaiju Preservation Society, and I really loved the cool ideas, intelligent science fiction elements, and exciting story it contained.
The author has come up with an excellent story for The Kaiju Preservation Society that proves incredibly easy to get into and enjoy. This is a very intriguing and captivating read that quickly drags in the audience and gets them exceedingly addicted to the plot. Being a relatively short novel, it is an extremely fast paced, self-contained read that requires no prior experience of Scalzi’s books. It doesn’t take long for the events of the novel to unfold, with the reader soon introduced to the key characters, new friends, and the necessary set-up for the eventual dive into kaiju land. Once through the portal, the reader is given a crash course on the rules and attributes of the new world, the various issues the staff there are forced to contend with, and the crazy people who would choose to live amongst the monsters. After several fantastic and action-packed sequences, often broken up by several elaborate and comedic discussions between the protagonist and his friends, the book heads towards its intriguing final third, which identifies the main threat of the book and forces the characters to act. This final bit is extremely exciting and fun, and there are several intense moments as the characters face death, tragedy and one of the smarmiest villains I have had the pleasure of reading about. This leads up to an amazing conclusion that wraps everything up nicely and ensures everyone leaves the book incredibly satisfied.
I mostly liked how Scalzi wrote this book, especially as he clearly had a lot of fun introducing this bold new world and its many awesome features. The author does a lot in a short amount of time, and you are soon immersed in the excellent world of Kaijus. Told perfectly from the perspective of the main protagonist, who, like the reader, is seeing everything in this world for the first time, you quickly get a sense of all the craziness that occurs in this land, and the various issues they experience. I loved all the unique elements Scalzi came up with, from the impossible, nuclear-powered, mountain sized monsters with their complex biology and giant parasites, to the mass of strange creatures haunting the land, the unique landscape, and the various other awesome elements. You get a great sense of everything in this world, and Scalzi ensures that the science is both realistic and easy to understand at the same time. This proves to be such an impressive setting for this fantastic read, and you will wish that the author had made the book even longer just to see more of this strange new world. While there is a good focus on monsters, exploration and science, Scalzi also makes sure to lace The Kaiju Preservation Society with a great amount of comedy that proves to be extremely entertaining and amusing. This book is filled with so many fantastic and clever jokes, which range from comedic reactions to the outrageous events occurring around them, to fun, if random, pop culture references (for example, one of the villains is inspired by Trading Places), and multiple entertaining interactions between the eccentric central cast. You end up really getting into this excellent story as a result and it is so very fun to read.
I did have some minor issues with some of the dialogue in The Kaiju Preservation Society, as certain exchanges came across as a little clunky. I must note the somewhat overuse of dialogue tags (he said, she said, I said) after direct speech, which is something I noticed when I read Redshirts. While it was not as obvious or problematic in The Kaiju Preservation Society, possibly because I read a physical version rather than the listening to the audiobook, the overuse of them still stood out a little and spoiled the flow of the book at times. I also really wish that Scalzi could be a bit more descriptive with his writing in places, especially when it comes to the kaiju and some of the characters. For being such a key part of the plot you often don’t fully grasp what these creatures look like, with only very general descriptions of their size and shape being featured, unless an attribute is essential to the plot. There was also a complete lack of character description throughout the book, which I found to be a little distracting, especially as I often had no idea what a person looked like. For example, I didn’t realise character was nonbinary until halfway through the novel when they started getting a little more focus and the them/they pronouns started being used with more regularity. While some of this stuff is a little annoying, I felt that the strong and entertaining story more than overcomes it and you end up overlooking these minor stylistic problems.
The insanely brilliant John Scalzi continues to shine with his latest kooky and compelling science fiction read, The Kaiju Preservation Society. Filled with a wild and captivating exploration of a distinctive alternate Earth, you will quickly fall in love with this exciting and humorous story. I had an absolute blast getting through the awesomeness that is The Kaiju Preservation Society and I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for something light and fun to get through.