The Kaiju Preservation Society is a fun romp and a refreshing reset of Scalzi, for me. His most recent works, “The Interdependency Saga” (a trilogy), left me feeling ‘meh’. My review for the second book had me questioning whether I was cooling on Scalzi. I still have yet to read the third. When Scalzi announced this book, I was intrigued by the name and that it would be a standalone novel. The Kaiju Preservation Society was preordered, and I’m grateful I did because it provided much joy in our house. This book is a delight and we breezed through it quickly.
The premise is simple, there is an alternate Earth that can be reached through the application of atomic energy. On this version mammals never evolved, instead kaiju (giant monsters first popularized in Japanese media) reign supreme. This is an open but carefully guarded secret amongst those who have to know in order to keep funding flowing for scientific research and those who go to study.
Jamie Gray has lost his job and is delivering food for an app service to make a living. He ends up regularly delivering to an acquaintance, Tom, from his grad school days. Tom is in a crunch needing staff for a mission he’s going on for KPS, a large animal protection NGO, and offers Jamie a position in manual labor and general gopher for staff. The pay and benefits are a significant boost from his current position. Jamie, eager stop being a deliverator, jumps at the opportunity, despite all the secrecy of what the job actually entails. Arriving on alternate Earth blows his and the other newbies’ minds.
The book is a slow burn spending much of its time establishing how everything works. From the massive kaiju that physics and biology say shouldn’t exist. To the operations of research and how all of this is kept secret. While also building the rapport between characters, focusing mainly on Jamie and the newbie scientists. When the action does kick in, it’s a thrilling race to the end of the book.
The Kaiju Preservation Society is set in 2020 with the pandemic being a factor of the story. It is littered with pop culture and current references. As a result, I’m not certain this book will hold up in another decade or so but it’s a lot of fun right now!
Sosuke giving me his best kaiju impression.