Sunday, September 11, 2022

REVIEW: The Kaiju Preservation Society (book) by John Scalzi

The Kaiju Preservation Society is humorous sci-fi. I bought my copy brand new.


Jamie Gray is confident that he's going to ace his six-month performance evaluation for füdmüd, a food delivery app. Too bad his CEO's a massive jerk and he never stood a chance. Six months later, he's one of the company's delivery drivers, scraping by with no benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. When he's offered a job by an old acquaintance, Tom, he jumps at it, even though all Tom can tell him is that it's an "animal rights organization," very hush-hush, and he'll be expected to lift things.

Sometime later, Jamie learns that his new employer is the Kaiju Preservation Society. Their job involves traveling to another Earth via a portal and studying and generally keeping an eye on the giant monsters (kaiju) that call that world home. Certain circumstances can cause the barrier between their world and ours to thin, so the KPS both protects our world from the kaiju and the kaiju from us.

Some very unusual circumstances result in a pregnant kaiju nesting on one of those thin spots. For various reasons, this wouldn't normally be a problem, except someone on our side of the barrier has plans for her.

I've wanted to read this ever since I heard it was coming out. Kaiju, yay! As far as that goes, Scalzi delivered fairly well. We got really big monsters fighting less than a quarter of the way in, and I generally enjoyed the way they were written. I liked learning about what they were like, their life cycles, and the various things the KPS was doing to find out more about them.

What I did not expect, going in, was that this was going to mostly be a slice-of-life workplace story, albeit in a workplace where they study kaiju. Not a whole lot happens for the bulk of the book. Jamie becomes friends with a few of the other newbies, has a bit of an emotional moment when he sees what the person who previously had his room left behind, learns the ropes in his new job, and gets enough training to keep from dying during his first experience out in the field. Scalzi indulges in some poop jokes but thankfully reins it in enough that it doesn't overwhelm the more enjoyable aspects. 

A little over two thirds of the way through, things go wrong and a plot with stakes, action, and serious aspects rears its head. There weren't a lot of pages left, so, as you'd expect, things wrapped up relatively quickly and easily. The Worst Character got the ending they deserved, and the good guys figured out how to save the day, so as a whole it was pretty satisfying. 

I didn't realize that the first part of this book would reference the pandemic. It's apparently too soon for me, because I mentally flinched. But it didn't dwell on the worst aspects of the pandemic and, even though it took ages for the plot to happen, the fun stuff - the portal, giant monsters, and an employer that pays employees appropriately - made their appearances pretty quickly. Overall this was an enjoyable read.


An afterword by the author that got me right in the pandemic feels.

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