The Kaiju Preservation Society is released tomorrow so I thought I would put out some thoughts on this book.
Talking in the back of his book, John Scalzi writes that this book came about when he was writing another book. However, with the events of the pandemic, he could not entirely get his head into gear (I am paraphrasing here!) and had to put the book that he was writing on the back burner. Not only that, he describes that he experienced an illness that he was sure was COVID. All this hampered his efforts to write the book he had planned.
When he started writing again, he felt much happier with the stuff that he had created. However, as we all know, computers can be absolute gits, and whilst he thought he had saved his work, the cold reality was that it had been eaten by an entity that hangs around cyberspace and is known to eat the words that people produce.
That was it! He decided on a moment of clarity that the novel that he was originally going to write was well and truly gone. After some wrangling he sorted it out, and got the idea for The Kaiju Preservation Society, which he describes as 'dropping into his head, all at once'.
So, let's get on with The Kaiju Preservation Society.
The Kaiju Preservation Society is John Scalzi's first standalone adventure since the conclusion of his New York Times bestselling Interdependency trilogy.
When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls "an animal rights organization." Tom's team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.
What Tom doesn't tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They're the universe's largest and most dangerous panda and they're in trouble.
It's not just the Kaiju Preservation Society that's found its way to the alternate world. Others have, too--and their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.
That’s the premise in John Scalzi’s Kaiju Preservation Society. Jamie Gray has given up their college course to work for a startup company called Müdfüd.
At an appraisal with their boss, Jaimie’s life is irrevocably changed when they are ‘let go’ from their job. They are offered a job as a delivery person. However things are about to change when the pandemic strikes.
Whilst out delivering, he happens to deliver to an old friend who seems to have done quite well for themselves. Over a period of time they reacquaint themselves and Jamie is offered a job.
What Jamie does not realise is that the job is on an alternative earth, studying massive Kaiju, who have developed on an alternative evolutionary trajectory.
This is the first book by John Scalzi that I have read and found that it was a good introduction to his writing as it is a light read that is just entertainingly fun. The prose is light and breezy, and by his own admission, this is a bit of a pop novel that is simply there to entertain, which it does with ease.
One of the strengths of the book is the relationship between the new comrades as they become orientated to this new earth. There is plenty of snarky dialogue between the new recruits as they become familiar with both their new roles in the job, and this other earth that is vastly different, where in all honesty it is not the massive Kaiju that is the main danger, but everything else.
As the story progresses we are treated to the scientific reasons why the Kaiju exist and how they differ from our perceived ideas of just being behemoths that terrorise the world they live in and are in fact massive ecosystems that are a part of the ecology of the world. You are never overwhelmed by the ‘science’ of the world that Jamie now inhabits and it adds to the fun of the book.
There is a solid cast of characters that are well realised. The characters are all diverse, and John Scalzi doesn’t make any issue of this, for example, we have non binary characters, and this is treated as part of the culture. No judgement, no source of conflict etc, which makes it refreshingly inclusive.
The book is peppered with pop culture references, and there are references to things like Gozilla and other things that make you smile as the references become more apparent.
However, underneath the fluff and bubblegum, there is a satirical swipe at our current world and the corporate dictation that has emerged and shines a light on the fact that this culture regularly puts profit at the forefront of its ethos and the disastrous results this can have.
The book itself is lighthearted and playful, and will be a delight for those of us who have grown up on monster flicks, and wondered about the science behind the creature.