The Kaiju Preservation Society – by John Scalzi
“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 pandas, and they’re in trouble. It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society who have found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.”–
If you’ve been around the internet long enough, you’re sure to eventually see the image that shows that Harry Potter is really just Star Wars with a fresh coat of paint, which is just a modern take on the Hero’s Journey, which is been a story told since stories could be told. Kaiju Preservation Society is no different, though I feel that until a certain point in the story it’s going to be more familiar than just a mythological story structure, as I’m pretty sure if you put the outline of Scalzi’s breakout book “Old Man’s War” and put it up against KPS’s, there’s a lot of common elements:
Guy is at the end of a major point in his life and is recruited to do a mysterious thing.
Guy goes through a mysterious process.
A huge story twist that absolutely rocks how we understand the universe is presented early.
Guy saves the day a few times.
Pepper in the traditional Scalzi snark and pop culture references and there’s more than I could honestly take here, and you get a fun story with familiar elements that made me feel good about spending my time reading the book. That being said, Scalzi used to be my #1 favorite author, but I think he’s just in my top five now. I say “just” like it’s no big deal, but his stories aren’t hitting me the way they used to. Back when I first read Old Man’s War about 15 years ago, I was just getting started on military science fiction and was catching up on the big names that had published notable work in the genre, OMW came out and blew my socks off and the franchise itself was a fun one to read. I’ve become more enamored with the military scifi and I Scalzi has mostly abandoned the genre. To be clear though, I’m happy about that, because he’s always going to be on my radar now, and what if he starts publishing something in a genre that I’m not currently interested in and it turns out I should be?
Final take: this was good to read, a bit heavy on the pop culture references, but I’d love to read another book in this universe.