Review: The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi
The Kaiju Preservation Society
by John Scalzi
“I can explain,” I blurted out. This was a lie, I could not.
“You didn’t insult me by offering me money. You insulted me by thinking I could be bought.”
“This is not working,” I said to the plant. The plant, while sympathetic, I’m sure, said nothing.
“These are just your basic vaccinations,” she said. “Just the usual stuff, new and boosters. Measles, mumps, rubella, multispectral flu, chicken pox, smallpox.”
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you.”
Y’know, I’ve been known to read a book or two, so I had seen the name Scalzi floatin’ around in circles to which I am adjacent but to which I do not belong, mostly your military science fiction and similar. (Also his Twitter, @Scalzi, is delightful, but an author’s work and their public personae are, in my experience, best considered separate creatures.) I got the impression that he was very good at what he did, and that it probably wasn’t for me, and that’s fine; I’m the protagonist of reality, obviously, but the secondary characters need stuff to read too, and it’s not gonna be my stuff, I’ll tell you that right now.
But riddle my ass this: what was I supposed to do when I saw that he had written a novel about the care and keeping of various Godzillas? NOT slam preorder so hard my cat fell off the desk, and I wasn’t even in my office?
Pictured: moments before hilarious disaster
I’d like to begin, as if you hadn’t guessed yet, at the afterward. In 2020, Scalzi was under contract for an entirely different novel, and every power on this dipshit rock conspired against him and against his book like an actually competent Sinister Six: Covid, January 6th, the same theoretically impossible technical data-munching bamboozlement–and here I’m quoting–“fucking twice”, and he was left with no option but to call the ballgame for the first time in his career. I think we can all agree: relatable, and fair, and grade-A bummer. But immediately afterwards, this book popped into his head fully formed, and he carved it from a single slab of fat-marbled goofmeat in the span of two months and had the time of his life doing it, like a goddamn boss, and as a result it absolutely rules.
You will picture it, for in this moment I control your thoughts:
Jamie was an exec at a food-delivery app, was handed a pink slip just as the Pandemic was about to explode through the U.S., and is reduced to being a driver for that selfsame app, which just cornered the entire delivery market with an innovation that our gentle dumbass of a protagonist was foolish enough to trust them with literally the week before. Things are lookin’ *chef fingers* a-pretty grim-a for ol’ Jamie–BECAUSE SURELY EARLY 2020 WAS AS BAD AS THINGS COULD POSSIBLY GET, AMIRITE GANG, HA, HA-HA–until along comes an offer too good to pass up despite its suspicious generosity: a six-month gig taking care of large aminals, no experience necessary, mostly lifting things, bonkers pay, all because sometimes a repeat delivery customer that you take care of in the pad thai area is one that maybe??? takes care of you.
TURNS OUT: ‘LARGE ANIMALS’ MEANS MOTHAFUCKIN GODZILLAS.
Not to be confused with Mothrafuckin Godzillas
Jamie–whose gender actually pretty elegantly never revealed because guess what, it doesn’t fucking matter, feeding Godzillas does–is initiated into the Sacred Order of the Monster Rancher, learns the ways and history of KPS (hint: I was not exaggerating when I called them Godzillas) and quickly proves invaluable, just in time for a crisis of two-worlds-threatening proportions to arise and be met. Clocking in at around 260 pages, it’s a breezy, neat little snack-package of a story that very intentionally does not overstay its welcome, both because it’s supposed to be fun and snappy and because there are only so many hand-wavy explanations regarding the square-cube law an audience can be expected to accept, no matter how entertainingly lampshaded they might be, and is divided, like so many Da Vinci Codes, into a million ittybitty chapters that you can chomp through like handfuls of caramel corn and feel like you’re making amazing progress. Look at you! You’re reading so much book! Readin’ it so good. You’re gonna get such a personal pan pizza from the Accelerated Reader Program for this.
On the surface TKPS is, by the author’s own admission, a pop song: designed to be enjoyed for its brief visit in your morning commute, maybe offer a hooky chorus or catchy rhyme to stick around in your head for a while, and leave you with a smile on your face to take with you through your day, and boy howdy does it hit that target.
I enjoyed the hell out of it while reading it and would’ve been well within my rights to never think about it again, but I found myself turning it over and over like a cool weird rock in my head, and I think Scalzi would be as surprised as I was to learn that it’s got some depth and layers, too, whether intentional or otherwise, and some things to say about how the forces of corruption and rampant greed sow the seeds of their own destruction with every action they take, like a species of lumbering megajerk slarbing towards its own extinction because it just can’t stop barbecuing megafaunae over volcanoes, even though the toxic vapors make mammoths too high in sodium, and make an otherwise heart-healthy spit-roasted Carcharodon Megalodon into Carcinogen Megalodon.
Although given that it was about cancer, maybe it should’ve been a giant crab
When it comes down to it, TKPS is escapism that knows itself and is interested in helping you escape as fun-havingly as possible; it’s got some bonus ideas you can mull over if you like, but if you’re just here for the monsters (large AND small) then cousin you are gonna have a ball, and I cannot over-recommend that you sign up for your tour of SCIENCE-DUTY directly. We’ve all done enough heavy lifting in the past few years to last a lifetime, and it’s time to let Jamie take over: Jamie lifts things.
SCORE: 9/10 Off-Screen Interjections From Laertes That Kinda Make You Wish The Book Was About Him Instead Of An Audience Avatar Character
maybe the world isn’t dying
maybe she’s heavy with child
Send this to a friend! Or an enemy! Or your State Senator! Or Dave!