John Scalzi is writing a sci-fi novel with dragons?! Hell, yeah!
WARNING – POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!!
Jamie Gray is a delivery driver for a food delivery app. It’s a dead-end job for a man with Jamie’s skills, but what with the pandemic, any job is a good job. But things aren’t going well and Jamie wants to do something better. This hits home even more-so when his roommates, whom he relies on to help pay the rent, tell him they are moving out. As luck would have it, Jamie runs into an old friend, Tom, who works with an animal rights organization and they need someone to do mostly grunt work. Tom makes the arrangements for Jamie to get an immediate interview and then the job offer. The job itself is kept mysteriously vague. All Jamie needs to know is that he’ll be paid well, he’ll be out of communication with society for his contracted time away, and that his job will be to lift and move things.
Jamie joins a few other ‘newbies’ on a plane – their whereabouts still a mystery. Even as they land in Greenland, he learns that this isn’t his final destination. It turns out that Greenland is just the first step in accessing an alternate earth. Yup, you read that correctly. This alternate earth has many similarities to our earth, but many unique and dangerous to humans differences as well. Including dragons. Well, ‘kaiju’ to be more precise. ‘Kaiju’ is a Japanese term meaning ‘strange beast of Godzilla size.’ And if their size wasn’t scary enough, the Kaiju on this planet are heated internally through a nuclear process and when a Kaiju dies, it sets off a nuclear explosion.
There are a number of things going on, Jamie discovers, as scientists are here studying and hoping to preserve the Kaiju, but also, the volume of nuclear explosions from dying Kaiju is weakening the space between Earth and this alternate world. Should there be a new opening, the Kaiju, and all its scary parasites could travel to Earth.
But a bigger problem turns out to be the humans who are working against the Kaiju Preservation Society to create that opening and bring in those Kaiju because … well … greed, of course. Who wouldn’t want to tap into the potential for ‘free’ nuclear energy?
Man… Scalzi creates a remarkably complex, unique world, full of scientific technobabble and still manages to bring in the fantasy element of dragons?! This is awesome.
The book is a really fast read. Maybe a little too fast as it seems we’re only just getting started with the story after getting all the background on the characters and the location and the story is nearly done as soon as it gets started.
I’d also add that while I really enjoy the snarky attitude and comments from Scalzi’s main characters in nearly all of his works, there were a couple of times when I actually felt it was out of place here … almost more like having the author interfere with the idea that ‘this is really clever and witty, you need to say this’ rather than what the character wanted to say in a given situation. In other words, I saw Scalzi, not Jamie, at these moments.
Still, I really had fun here. It was exciting and thrilling, just enough conflict to make it a story, and lots and lots of action and danger. It’s a great beach read, or airport read, or ‘stuck-inside-due-to-the-cold’ read.
It is supposedly a stand-alone novel, but there’s plenty of opportunity here to build an on-going story, and frankly I hope we’ll get to revisit this again sometime.
Looking for a good book? The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi is an exciting, thrill-ride. And like the thrill-rides at your local carnival, it is over much too soon – you’ll want another go.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Kaiju Preservation Society
author: John Scalzi
publisher: Tor Books
hardcover, 272 pages