I enjoyed the quirky originality of Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series and absolutely loved his futuristic crime Lock In series – see my review of Lock In and Head On. And while I’m still unsure about the ending of the series, I also found his Interdependency series an exhilarating read – see my reviews of The Collapsing Empire, The Consuming Fire and The Last Emperox. So I was delighted to be approved for this intriguing standalone adventure.
TRUNCATED BLURB: 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…
REVIEW: In the Afterword, Scalzi makes it plain that he had a difficult time during the Lockdown wrestling to write a far darker book that was scheduled for release. And he was hit hard by Covid, too. So when this idea popped into his head as a far lighter tale, he went with it. I’m very glad he did. I’ve been in Long Covid hell for the last year and I’m all over anything that provides escape from my daily grind where I’m battling to get well, again.
Jamie is a thoroughly likeable protagonist and as our first-person narrator, he gives a nicely sardonic commentary without coming across as ‘too up himself’ as they say around here. Indeed, it is refreshing to have a main character who is the least qualified person in the story, who doesn’t then go on to reveal that he has some kind of hidden power. Unless it’s the knack of getting along with his co-workers and fitting right in very quickly. But then, he’s had a rough old time of it during the Lockdown and isn’t about to take for granted the basics like warm clean accommodation, food and medical care if he needs it. Or… is our plucky protagonist a she? I really appreciate how Scalzi leaves it up to the reader to decide the gender of this s/hero – after all, that’s the coolest thing about books, isn’t it? That the pictures engendered by the story are sharply personal to each of us.
While the tone is breezy and Scalzi himself talks about this book being a pop song – that doesn’t mean he has skimped on the science. My nerdy side enjoyed reading the discussions about how the ginormous kaiju are possible and I appreciated that the eco-system invented around these huge creatures is detailed and feels plausible throughout. As for the adventure that kicks off when a mother kaiju comes under threat, along with her brood of eggs – parts of that felt cosily familiar in a good way.
Throughout, there are enjoyable shafts of wit and humour. Even our greedy, narcissistic villain refers to his own monologuing as he explains his motives and the full extent of his wrongdoing during the denouement. I was grinning throughout that scene. All in all, this is a delightful piece of escapism that had me wishing it would go on longer. Highly recommended for those who need a break from the ongoing awfulness in our daily News. The ebook arc copy of The Kaiju Preservation Society was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
I don’t normally read books about kaiju but this sounds like the perfect one to try. Great review, Sarah!
Lovely review😁 I thought this was great escapist fun too. But also with plenty of interesting science!
Yes – I was pleased to see that Scalzi put in the necessary effort to make the world believable and scientifically coherent.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this book just as much as I did: it does indeed offer a very welcome respite to the persistent gloom of our times, while it creates a world that – as you said so well – feels real and believable. Great review, thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you, Maddalena! It is such fun, isn’t it? And lovely to find a sci fi book full of adventure that is also upbeat, too.
Excellent review! I hope to read this at some point.
Anne – Books of My Heart
Thank you, Anne. It is huge fun – I think you’d really enjoy this one.
Delightful review. I love this author, particularly on audio. I am still smiling.
Thank you, Kimberly. I can imagine that this was a thoroughly enjoyable listen:)).
I’ve read it recently, and I think this book is an equivalent of calorie-free ultimate comfort food. The characters are not only likeable: they’re also becoming friends throughout the book, and it’s the kind of friends that doesn’t stab you in the back when you aren’t looking. I spent all day reading TKPS even though I had other things planned, and needless to say, I don’t feel a bit guilty about it.
Yes – it was very readable, wasn’t it? His characters are often delightful and perhaps a bit too good to be true. However, I thought the science regarding the creature’s biology was thoroughly covered and held together well – so perhaps not just comfort food? Glad you were able to put your feet up and tuck in:)).
Maybe they are too good to be true, but I want to believe they *could* be true. The world (or maybe it’s just me?) needs all the hope it can get nowadays.
You’re right – we need all the hope and positivity we can get right now. Gallons and gallons of it!!!