The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
When Covid hits New York City, Jamie Grey finds himself stuck working for the same food delivery app that fired him. He hates it, but there aren’t a whole lot of other options with the city stuck in lockdown and businesses letting people go in floods. One night on delivery, he runs into an old acquaintance in the form of Tom, who makes him an on-the-stop deal: work for an animal rights organization and make great money. Tom’s organization needs a last-minute hire. Jamie is available. The catch? He’ll be out in the field for months, the job has a really vague description, and everything is super hush-hush. Out of options and intrigued, Jamie takes it…and discovers there’s an even bigger catch to everything.
“I lift things.”
I really, really enjoyed this one.
Notwithstanding my liking of it, I’m recommending a bit of a drinking game for those of you entering this book for the first (or second, or third) time. Every time Jamie says, “I lift things,” take a drink!
You’ll be drunker than a skunk in no time.
Anywho, to the review!
“So, just to be clear, the choices here are ‘homicidal maniac’ or ‘shit tornado.'”
After agreeing to the deal, Jamie finds himself working for an animal rights organization in the loosest of terms. He discovers that the multiverse is real, and the closest Alternate Earth has these giant monster creatures (and a bunch of smaller ones that will kill you in a heartbeat) affectionately called kaiju…and that there is some truth to the Godzilla myth. And that these creatures are powered by biological, semi-functioning nuclear reactors and are drawn to nuclear explosions, which thin the planes between worlds.
Jamie’s job is to lift things, sure, but his job takes him all around the compound and he learns how everything fits together, and how absolutely vital the mission is to both prevent the kaiju from slipping into his Earth and from assholes trying to get over and wreck havoc.
With all this plot going along, it’s just a whole lot of fun, made zippy with the witty dialogue and quirky characters.
Yes, the main character is basically John Perry from Old Man’s War but in a younger body, and yes the plotline is basically info dumping through dialogue, but where this would be annoying as fuck in the hands of someone trying too damn hard to be relevant and witty [insert dig on space algae and interrobang misuse], Scalzi knows how to lean into his dad rock sci-fi, and he really knows how to make his everyman protagonist not be an obnoxiously stale crouton of a human being.
As Scalzi says in the author notes, it’s a pop song, it’s not original but it’s fun and boppy and just a pleasure to read.
And dammit, it was just so fun to read. I’ve been reading some Serious Science Fiction (and fantasy) recently, and after a lot of deliberation I requested this book from NetGalley and Tor, and I didn’t regret one minute. It has Dora the Explorer, a Pitch Perfect references that’ll make you realize that movie came out ten years ago, lots of fantastic poop jokes, a random zeppelin that makes sense, tons of lifting of the things, much slam dunking on venture capitalist bros, and giant horny monsters getting it on with help from Science.
Also, there is a beautiful full circle moment at the end that is just *chef’s kiss*, not to mention positive queer and POC representation.
And did I mention the poop jokes?
“Avoid excessively fatty foods, since one of these is going to tell your body to purge fats in a way that absolutely challenges normal sphincter control.”
“It’s a mess. Seriously, don’t even think about trying to fart for the next eighteen hours. It’s not a fart. You will regret it.”
“I don’t like you.”
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
The Kaiju Preservation Society releases March 15 from Tor