Photos of covers on my kindle just don't look good. Such a bummer! So here's an official cover from MacMillan.
The Kaiju Preservation Society is a contemporary adult scifi that I'd classify as biopunk. And by contemporary I mean contemporary--it discusses the COVID-19 pandemic. The plot is not about that, but the MC loses his job right when the pandemic hits, as many people did, and that kicks off his need for a job, which leads him to working for The Kaiju Preservation Society. For those, like me, who don't know, a Kaiju is an already established thing outside of this book, and basically refers to Godzilla and Godzilla-adjacent monsters from Japanese films. When the MC, Jamie, starts his job, he's sent to a parallel Earth where Kaiju are the apex predators. The KPS's goal is to study them, as they have a bunch of fascinating biology including the fact they run on nuclear energy. The book follows some antics, some cool biology, and of course, the eventual problem that puts the Kaiju in danger.
I loved this book. The voice was humorous without being cringy, the biology was fun but not an info dump, and the pacing was on point. This wasn't the type of book to ruminate on the plot and discuss character arc--it's popcorn and a romp. Not only did I enjoy this, but I'd also enjoy a movie adaptation. I was also a fan of the inclusion of Naimh, a nonbinary character, whose nonbinary-ness was never made a Thing.
So what didn't work for me? Honestly, there are so few things to complain about. Was Jamie a bit of a dull protagonist? Yes. Did I care? No. The book wasn't about him as much as it was about this society and the alternate world. Jamie was basically the cameraman. But I don't even care because the rest was so fun.
I've started using this book as a comp title for my manuscript. For those who are here as readers rather than writers, I'm listing this book as one that is similar to my own when I tell literary agents about my manuscript. What do they have in common? The sense of humor is similar (wise cracks and wit, but not too much), the plot relies a lot on biology (aka biopunk, same genre as Jurassic Park), and the audience (people who like appropriately funny biopunk.) My book also has a nonbinary side character, a corrupt corporation, and animal (in the broadest sense of the word) rights activists.
This book is for you if you want a popcorn movie as a book. If you like Godzilla, you'll probably enjoy all the references that I didn't get. It's your genre if you enjoyed Jurassic Park or Dan Kobolt's Domesticating Dragons (which sounds like fantasy but it's not). It's not for you if any mention of the pandemic is going to put you off. That's understandable, save this for another time. It's also not for you if you're looking for literary style, romance arcs, or want everything to be character driven.
Have you read The Kaiju Preservation Society? Have you read more of John Scalzi's books? Which ones would you recommend to fans of TKPS? Let's discuss in the comments!