Review: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Book: The Kaiju Preservation Society

Author: John Scalzi

Pages: 272

Source: NetGalley

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: March 15, 2022

StoryGraph Summary:

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 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 whose found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

My Review:

I was given a free Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book by Tor Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Tor Books! I was so excited to be approved for an early review copy of this, and I devoured it almost in one sitting. I love John Scalzi’s Interdependency Series, so I was on the look-out for more new books by him. Although, this book was nothing like what I expected in the best way.

The Kaiju Preservation Society is told from the perspective of Jamie Gray. It starts just as the world is on the cusp of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Jamie is about to lose his job in marketing at a food delivery app start-up called füdmüd. He left a doctorate program in literature for this opportunity, and now, the rich Daddy’s boy CEO is kicking him to the curb just as the pandemic gets underway. In order to pay his rent, Jamie, much to his chagrin, must now become a food delivery person for the very company he was just fired from. Luckily this also allows him to catch up with an old college friend named Tom who offers him a job.

This is where the story really kicks off. Tom doesn’t tell Jamie anything about the job except that it’s with endangered wildlife and he would basically be a gofer for everyone else. Since that’s what Jamie has been doing for months as a delivery driver, he sees no reason not to go ahead with taking the job that pays better. Little does he know that decision will lead him on the adventure of a lifetime, and just as a bonus, he will be able to get revenge on his old boss later as well.

The Kaiju Preservations Society is a light-hearted and often hilarious story about what might happen if alternate universes really existed. On one of these alternate universes, kaiju monsters are real, and they are in danger. It’s the titular organization’s job to not only ensure their continued existence, but to do so in secret. Well, as secretly as they can and still secure proper funding that is. These 6-month-long expeditions to another universe aren’t cheap you know.

I really liked the idea that anyone could potentially be picked to work for the KPS. Jamie had no real qualifications outside of his stint as a delivery person and the fact that his friend recommended him. It was nice to see a normal everyday guy be able to take advantage of connections to get himself out of a financial struggle instead of it always being the rich Daddy’s boy type.

Once he starts work, Jamie quickly learns that the job he signed up for, while worthwhile, could end up getting him killed if he isn’t careful. In fact, he learns that Earth has known about the kaiju ever since Godzilla (yes, he was real) escaped onto our side of the dimensional barrier and died. He quickly ingratiates himself with other first-time expeditioners, and I really appreciated how his character was allowed to fit in with all the scientists. Just goes to show being a super-nerd will get you friends anywhere.

In fact, most of the story took place on Kaiju Earth and the scientific base set up there to help study and preserve the different species of kaiju. It followed Jamie in his daily routine (“I lift things.”), and on some less routine adventures where he has to save his new friends from local fauna intent on eating them. Everything is going great until tourists from our Earth stop by for a visit. It becomes evident very quickly that there are people who would love nothing more to exploit what they see on Kaiju Earth for their own gains.

That is another overarching theme of the book. The KPS has to not only help the kaiju survive and flourish. They also have to keep them from being exploited. We as humans do enjoy exploiting animals and anything else we deem a resource instead of trying to protect and conserve. The story made it very clear that we should seek to do more protecting if we wanted to stay safe. Including protecting ourselves from things that can harm us.

My two favorite things about this book, though, were the humor and the bad guy getting his comeuppance. I won’t give away who the real bad guy ends up being as it isn’t revealed until the latter third of the book but suffice it to say I was downright gleeful when he got what was coming to him. As for the humor, it was fantastic. The book is littered with sarcastic remarks and quotable phrases (my personal favorite being “I lift things.”). There are so many that I would put on a shirt to wear, and I want to make a meme out of at least one of them.

Overall, this book was a joy to read. As John Scalzi mentions in the acknowledgements, “Sometimes you need a pop song,” and that’s exactly what this book is. It’s just a fun sci-fi romp with giant kaiju monsters, egomaniacal rich kids, and super nerds who want to save the world.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I gave The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi four out of five stars. It is a light-hearted and hilarious adventure to another world that every young nerd hoped in their hearts existed. If you want to read a fun sci-fi palette cleanser between your space opera tomes, then this is the book for you.

Do you plan to read The Kaiju Preservation Society when it comes out? Have you read any of Scalzi’s other work? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Review: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

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