The Kaiju Preservation Society is very definitely a John Scalzi book. In his Afterword, which is worth reading, he describes it as a pop song. It came to him almost fully formed after he finally abandoned a book he describes as “a brooding symphony.” It’s frothy, entertaining and goes down smoothly while pointing out significant cultural issues. The good guys win and the bad guy satisfyingly gets what’s coming to him.
I really loved that Scalzi starts this book firmly in our world, in our moment in time. As Covid-19 is on the edge of becoming a global pandemic, Jamie Gray is feeling secure and getting ready to go in for his 6 month performance review at the Füdmüd company with some great ideas about how to help the company through the upcoming lockdown while also helping it’s ground level employees. Füdmüd is a food delivery app started by Rob Sanders, a guy from a wealthy family, who insists on calling the delivery people “deliverators.” He’s obviously an asshole. After hearing Jamie’s great ideas, Rob lays him off and tells him he can be a “deliverator.” Faced with the economic reality of lockdown, Jamie becomes a deliverator. And then, he gets laid off from that job too. Just as he is about to buy a bottle of vodka and celebrate his impending unhoused status, a customer gives him a card and tells him to go apply for a job with KPS, “lifting things.”
KPS is an international NGO that takes it’s employees out into the field for 6 months at a time. While in the field, KPS pays your rent or mortgage and makes your student loan payments. I would like to apply for a job. I can lift things too. Once Jamie and the Gold Team arrive on site, things start hopping. Jamie learns his new world, and bonds with his fellow newbies. Naturally, they save the world with science and pluck.
Scalzi builds a comfortable bubble into a world based in our current reality where almost everything winds up being ok. He populates it with a characters that aren’t just white Americans, and it took me a few minutes to realize that one of the characters is non-binary. It was a really nice read and I’m glad he wrote it rather than the “brooding symphony” he gave up on. At this moment, The Kaiju Preservation Society was exactly what I needed.
If you do like Scalzi’s style, you are likely to enjoy this book. If Scalzi annoys you, this isn’t the book that’s going to change your mind.
Anyway, there are no ethical billionaires, pay workers a living wage, stop using the planet as a resource just for you, and respect people’s pronouns.
CW: Off page death of a few characters.
Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for this advance reader copy. My opinions are my own.