So you might be thinking that this book doesn’t look like a typical read for me. And you’d be right. But it is the sort of book that appeals to me as it sounds hilarious, but for some reason, I don’t get to unless my sister buys it. Which she usually does, admittedly, but I’m slow at picking them up. However, when I saw that Black Crow PR was offering The Kaiju Preservation Society to reviewers, I couldn’t resist requesting. I was certain that I would love it, and I was right.
The Kaiju Preservation Society follows Jamie. After losing his job just before the pandemic, Jamie wound up a delivery driver for the company that fired him. One day he delivers to a guy he met in college called Tom. Tom offers him a mysterious job with KPS related to large animals, which is much better paid, but all he’d have to do is go away on a mission for six months and lift things. Only the animals that KPS look after are, in fact, Kaiju, and the job is on a different earth. Working on another planet, surrounded by monsters, is dangerous work, and Jamie is about to go on a wild ride.
So I said that I was hoping this book would be hilarious, and it was. Over the first 30 pages, I was laughing out loud so much. It encouraged my sister to want to read it after me, so she’s taking it away on holiday with her. I think this is going to be a great holiday read. Throughout this book, there is a lot of comedy interspersed with danger and science. I don’t know how accurate the science is, but it felt believable. All of this made for such an easy read. I did read this in a couple of sessions, but the ease of the text and the fact the book is only 258 pages means that I think plenty of people could gobble this up in one sitting. It’s a pop song of a book, as the author says, so don’t expect anything too serious. But it’s something you’ll have a lot of fun with.
That said, I did feel like there was some impactful commentary. We have talk about nuclear reactors, nuclear testing and animal welfare to an extent in this book. The kaiju are living creatures, but the world they live in is so different to their own. The way they’re built ties in with nuclear reactors, and it does make them very dangerous in our world. I wound up thinking how these poor creatures could be abused in warfare, and though that didn’t come up…it was still a painful thought.
I mentioned animal welfare, and that welfare also ties into how monsters are portrayed and humanity in general. There was a quote I had to share from this book as it’s so impactful and true, and just wasn’t what I expected in a book this light sounding:
“So we’re the monster police, too?” I said to Tom.
“Correct,” he replied. “The only real question is, who are the monsters?”
“They ask that question in every monster movie, you know. It’s an actual trope.”
“I know,” Tom said. “What does it say about us that it’s relevant every single time they ask it?”The Kaiju Preservation Society – John Scalzi (pg.44-45)
I could go into a whole rant about humanity here, but I won’t. This quote struck me because it’s so very true. In a book where I was laughing and imagining these giant movie monsters living in a jungle, I was also hit by how horrible humanity can be. Seeing as this was a book written during the pandemic, it’s something that really would have hit home then. And I appreciated it, as dark as it was.
If you’re someone who doesn’t like romance, you won’t find any in this book. There is a found-family element with this group of co-workers stranded together for six months, but that was fun. There’s a clear hierarchy between staff, but you also witness some wonderful friendships and conversations. Almost every character in this book is smart, with many of them doctors, so there was plenty of fun there.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and I think it’ll make an amazing adaptation. I’d kind of like to see more in this world and learn more about Scalzi’s kaiju, but I don’t think that’s likely. The vast majority of the missions are supposed to be pretty boring after all. I do feel like there is more that I’d like to see done, but Scalzi did a great job at keeping the story contained, and not dragging it on too much.
If you’re looking for a fun sci-fi anytime soon, then I highly recommend checking this one out. It’s a junk food book, but that makes it all the more enjoyable.
Title: The Kaiju Preservation Society
Author: John Scalzi
Age Range: Adult
Release Date: 17/3/22