The Kaiju Preservation Society
reviewed by Fiona Cook
If you’ve been looking for the perfectly escapist science fiction thriller novel, one that’ll keep you laughing, give you characters to care about, and let you lose yourself in a better world – look no further, because John Scalzi is here to help.
It’s early 2020, and Jamie Gray has just had an involuntary career change from füdmüd executive to delivery agent. It’s not what dreams are made of, even before the Covid 19 lockdown arrives in New York, rendering Jamie’s flatmates unemployed and dependent on a salary that was already struggling to accommodate one person, let alone three. But then Jamie encounters an old classmate, one with an offer that sounds almost too good to be true; his employer, “animal rights organization” KPS, needs another person willing to travel, work with large animals – oh, and receive a salary that’s almost suspiciously generous.
It’s not until a trans-dimensional gateway in Iceland takes them to a surprisingly tropic jungle world that Jamie learns the truth – KPS stands for Kaiju Preservation Society, the animal rights they preserve are those of the kaiju that inspired any number of Japanese monster horrors, and they’ve effectively joined what’s quickly dubbed “the Foreign Legion for nerds”. Is this the escape of a lifetime, or has Jamie leapt without looking one time too many?
John Scalzi has a track record that almost speaks for itself, and The Kaiju Preservation Society is a great new addition. Told with his trademark blend of humor and imagination, this is science fiction that provides exactly what it promised – giant monsters, banter, and a plot that packs some surprisingly thoughtful moments into all that. But for the most part, Mr Scalzi has held back any heavy messages or allegories in favor of providing his readers with just as much of a temporary escape as he’s created for his latest protagonist. Entertaining, funny, and just so easy to disappear into for hours, The Kaiju Preservation Society was a sheer delight.