The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
Reviewed by GGGinny
What I drank: bubbly. I was feeling indulgent tonight after a really nice day. And oddly enough, this does fit with this book.
The Kaiju Preservation Society is John Scalzi’s first standalone adventure since the conclusion of his New York Timesbestselling 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 that’s found its way to the alternate world. Others have, too–and their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.
Drunk Overview: Jamie Gray gets fired from his tech job and ends up becoming a knock-off Uber-eats driver. He ends up getting a job offer from a shadowy government organization that turns out to be an organization to study and preserve Kaiju in a multi-verse version of Earth.
Drunk Thoughts: So, the reason that I said Bubbly was such a good choice is that this book is such a joy-filled read.
- Jamie Gray is the kind of protagonist John Scalzi loves to write. He’s witty and has a good sense of humor while also miraculously being the guy who manages to solve problems.
- The beginning of this book is also beautifully set up to be really fucking depressing – the covid pandemic is right around the corner (and to be honest, looking back to the beginning of all of this is most of what made the beginning depressing), and then Jamie gets screwed over by a shitty boss.
- But again, it sets the book up so well.
- So much of the book is a series of coincidences, from the very beginning, to a lot of what happens to the Kaiju. It’s part of the reason that the science in this book makes so much sense.
- but yeah, Jamie and his friends (the other four newbies in this group of like 50 people), get to learn about Kaiji (and happen to be our gateway into that world).
- And boy, I love the details that made the world where Kaiju could exist possible.
- I wouldn’t argue that this is “hard sci-fi,” (I don’t know enough about the science to back that up), but every explanation provided in this book felt so right in the universe.
- Which meant that so many of the twists and turns in this book were well foreshadowed, and again, an absolute joy to read.
- so Jamie has his three PhD friends who are also newbies (and I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure I remember a single characters name other than Jamie because there was so much happening that I didn’t really keep track of who was who beyond basic personality traits – there was the angry one, the sarcastic one, and the sane one) and coincidentally Jamie and the other docs end up being involved in so many of the big things that happen in this book.
- Again, I don’t mind, the cast was already really large and by limiting the characters who mattered it was a lot easier to follow what was going on.
- While I could see it coming, the return of Jamie’s shitty ex-boss still made me grin. First off, dude did get put in his place (always a plus), but it helped me realize where the plot was going to go.
- No spoilers, but I texted Sam going “I have a bad feeling because I think I know where this book is going to go” and then later texted “I WAS RIGHT!!!!”
- But again, the theme of both this review and the book is joy.
- Even having a good idea of where the plot was going to go, I was so excited to read through it all.
- It feels rare to read a book and instantly know that the author had as much fun writing it as I am reading it (I follow too many authors online to think that the editing process is easy or smooth), but god this is a book where you can tell the author is having fun (backed up by an acknowledgements section that backed me up on this point). But it makes a book so much fun to read.
- I know I’ve mentioned some things that aren’t particularly complimentary (not keeping the characters apart isn’t exactly the best thing to get from a book), but all of that is overwhelmed by how happy this book made me when I read it.
- I’ll probably read it again.
What it Pairs With: This is a pink wine for sure. Something that isn’t too sweet, but is for sure the perfect drink for a hot summer day, a bottle of something to split with friends.