Books

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Greg Keyes) – Review

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, or as a friend of mine recently referred to it, Godzilla: This Time We’re Not Fucking Around, gets its official novel treatment by Greg Keyes and Titan books, charting the destructive events of the film as titans battle for supremacy across the globe.

One of the criticisms I saw of the film was that there was too much focus on monster battles and not enough time with the human cast. A complaint that I think is absolutely ridiculous, especially as people said the opposite thing about the first film. Luckily, for those that enjoyed the story of the film but want more focus on the human characters – the book has you covered.

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Whilst the novel follows the plot of the film, the narrative always follows one of the human characters, meaning that the Kaiju battles are always observed from a distance by someone such as Mark Russell or one of the G Squad soldiers. The larger than life fights and the city wide destruction is secondary to how the people experience this. The reader doesn’t bask in the spectacle of Ghidorah and Godzilla battling in Boston, but stays with Madison Russell as she flees through the streets towards her childhood home, getting to experience the fear that she’s feeling.

These character insights extend beyond the action sequences, however, and actually gave me a better understanding as to character motivations from the film. A lot of the backstory to the Russell family was only given in brief pieces of dialogue, and left to the viewers to draw their own conclusions. The book actually goes a lot more into this, not just explaining more of how the family fell apart following the events of the first film, but showing how Mark’s feelings towards the creature he deemed responsible for his son’s death changes over time.

The book also adds some additional scenes to the narrative that were not included in the film. Some of these are scenes that provide more information on the titans that come out of hibernation thanks to Ghidorah, giving not only more information on the creatures, such as their names, places in mythology, and their abilities, but also throws some human characters into their emergence scenes too. It’s no longer just the spider-like Scylla breaking free of an oil field, but a scene where we get to know about Rick, the geologist that works there, and how his final thoughts before dying are of his family. We get something similar in Munich when Methusaleh breaks free of its mountain, observing the action from the point of view of a young couple on a romantic picnic.

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For myself, though, the best new scenes in the book are the small conversations that take place where the events of the comics are acknowledged. There’s the mention of Godzilla fighting Shinomura in the the 1940s, events that were observed by Dr. Serizawa’s father in Godzilla: Awakening. The book also makes a point of including Emma Russell’s previous work on the ORCA device to help Godzilla combat another MUTO creature following the events of the first film in Godzilla: Aftershock.

Whether it’s the inclusion of the larger Monsterverse outside of the films that casual fans would be familiar with, or the focus on the human characters, Godzilla: King of the Monsters proves to be a competent companion piece to the movie. It adds depth and characterisation without having to stray from the narrative, and creates a version of the film’s events that feel even more connected to the wider universe. Not only is it a great read, but it’s the perfect place to direct those who wanted more of a human connection from the film. as this provides a decent alternative.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters by Greg Keyes is out now, from Titan Books.

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