OK folks, this is a book review.
Context 1: Me
Back in the mid-1970s one of my mother’s boyfriends took me to a rundown cinema and introduced me to the joy of Godzilla. Later he disappeared from my life, but Godzilla never did. I loved the concept of some giant monster stomping across the horizon. It is a passion that I have carried with me through the various incarnations of Godzilla, and also included all the other giant monsters of cinema-land. I’ve even passed this love onto my daughter!
Context 2: Blogland
As a newly converted WordPress addict I naturally inserted “Kaiju” into my tag-list. And that was when I discovered the Jake Bible blog.
Giant monsters! muhahahahahahahahahahhahahahah… (that’s a maniacal laugh for those of you unused to maniacs in WordPress).
And he spoke about his book Kaiju Winter. muahahahahaha. It’s about giant monsters. muahahahahaha… (well, you get the idea. I’m insanely happy over this.)
So I said that I would buy it and read it and give feedback. Here it is. But first the book cover (nicked from his blog, naturally)
The actual review
Oops. The very first thing that I noticed on the first page was… was… present tense! I loathe present tense. My hands shook with frustration and my kindle wobbled more than if Gamera was stomping past my chair in search of popcorn.
I had to get over this. I gritted my teeth and carried on… (yes, I love and overuse ellipses)
Well, I am so glad that I did. I really enjoyed this book.
Synopsis: the super-volcano under Yellowstone erupts and successive waves of giant monsters come picnicking on pretty-much everyone. As you can imagine the US is somewhat devastated by these events (physically as well as emotionally). And while this happens, a much more human drama unfolds. Alas its hard to say much about the latter without tiptoeing into spoiler territory. So I won’t.
This book really hooked me once I got over the present tense (grumble, grumble, grumble). I actually felt that the focus on the human drama was the best part of it. The monsters served more as a backdrop while still giving the reader their proper amount of stomping, munching fun. This reminded me a lot of the classic Godzilla films which held up human drama first (before they became all campy).
The characters were also intriguing. I actually found Lowell (a bad-ass convict) to be my favourite. He showed levels of complexity that I enjoyed. A few other characters were a bit stereotypical, but that was appropriate in the context of the book. The events happen over a couple of days. Realistically it is difficult to portray complexity or character development when the story is over such a short period. The real villain of the piece (whose name I won’t mention) was a minor disappointment. Not because he was not mean enough, but because I would like to have seen more of his inner thoughts as the book progressed. Perhaps understood him better. But I guess that would have slowed down the pace.
Speaking of pace – perfect. I felt that it moved fast and did not dwell too much on any situation. It certainly kept me turning pages.
What about the monsters? They are big. But some are absolutely immense. And that is all that I am going to tell you.
Should you read it?
PS: a late edit here. Just wanted to say that I kept imagining Vin Diesel as the Lowell character.