Author- John Scalzi
Title- The Kaiju Preservation Society
Publisher- Tor Books
Publication Date- 17 March 2022
Genre- Contemporary YA romance
Comment- I was given a free physical copy through Stephen Haskin and Black Crow and UKTor books. All opinions are my own and I was in no way influenced in my review by giant parasites or tree crabs.
They’re big, they’re bad and they’re about to become extinct . . .
Jamie’s dream was to hit the big time at a New York tech start-up. Jamie’s reality was a humiliating lay-off, then a low-wage job as a takeaway delivery driver. During a pandemic too. Things look beyond grim, until a chance delivery to an old acquaintance. Tom has an urgent vacancy on his team: the pay is great and Jamie has debts – it’s a no-brainer choice. Yet, once again, reality fails to match expectations. Only this time it could be fatal.
It seems Tom’s ‘animal rights organization’ is way more than it appears. The animals aren’t even on Earth – or not our Earth, anyway. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures roam a tropical, human-free world. And although Kaiju are their universe’s largest and most dangerous animal, they need support to survive.
Tom’s ‘Kaiju Preservation Society’ wants to help. However, others want to profit. Unless they’re stopped, the walls between our worlds could fall – and the consequences would be devastating.
After being fired by his jerk of a boss during the start of the pandemic, Jamie is forced to take a low wage job as a takeaway delivery driver for the same damn company.
But as chance would have it he delivers to an old acquaintance who needs an extra man on his team for an ‘animal rights organization.’
Assuming he will be working with polar bears or seals, Jamie agrees and is quickly taken to a Doctor where is given a plethora of injections against everything from smallpox to malaria. Despite this glaring RED FLAG, Jamie still assumes this is a regular sort of job.
Oh, sweet summer child.
This is why he is unmistakably alarmed when, instead of being taken to the Arctic, they are taken to a parallel world where giant monsters called Kaiju exist.
This team is responsible for researching and monitoring the creatures and ensuring they don’t make their way through to our Earth.
Because that would be bad.
As luck would have it though, it’s really difficult to lose a hundred-foot tall monster.
But not impossible.
So first of all what are Kaiju? Kaiju are what we might recognise as Giant Japanese style monsters- think King Kong, King Ghidorah, Mothra, Slattern from Pacific Rim or the one and only Godzilla. These are all Kaiju.
In KPS these creatures are huge. So huge in fact that they just plain don’t make sense in our world. (This is the Square Cube effect and why the ‘Honey I blew up the Kid’ franchise REALLY could have had a different connotation)
Thankfully Mr Scalzi has a fantastic alternative to our understanding and blends science fiction with alternate science-fact in such a way that your brain literally goes- Ok, that’s science.
The story has such a fantastic way of warping your view of actual physics, reminding you that what we think is insane and impossible in one world is just everyday life in another. The world-building is just deliciously improbable and yet fantastically possible. I loved it.
The characters were just lovely.
I fell for Jamie immediately. He was witty and funny with just enough knowledge that he wasn’t a liability yet enough of a layman that the Doctors needed to explain things.
He was also funny enough I quite literally choked on my chocolate. I think I have several new favourite sayings based on this book.
There were so many great one-liners and I started making a list of sentences that would make great band names only to find halfway through that Mr Scalzi had the characters think the same thing. I am on the same wavelength as Mr Scalzi!
Notable standouts include
- Murder Stoner Syndrome
- Vengeful Fungi
- Punchable Insects
- Edwards Tumescent Cloaca
- Sentient Tumor
Another thing I wanted to briefly mention was about Niamh. In a world where pronouns seem to be a hot topic (for whatever reason), I genuinely didn’t notice that Niamh was always referred to as they/them. It wasn’t made a big deal out of, it wasn’t over-emphasized as a choice or an issue. It just felt natural and completely non-pandering. Kudos.
Moving on from brilliant characters and great world-building, the plot was simple enough to follow and yet complicated enough that it held your interest.
While I could wax rhapsodic about this book for ages, what I really want to say is that this was fun.
The Kaiju Preservation Society is what would have happened if you’d given Douglas Adam’s a Godzilla script. Off-beat, amusing and just pure entertainment.
And isn’t that exactly what we need right now? Because the true monsters were us all along.