Book: Godzilla: King of the Monsters - The Official Movie Novelization


Godzilla: King of the Monsters - The Official Movie Novelization

English Book Title

Godzilla: King of the Monsters - The Official Movie Novelization


Greg Keyes (based on the screenplay by Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields)


Titan Books





By: Nicholas Driscoll

This review will probably be a bit shorter than my usual work, as Noah Percival already did a fantastic review that covered many of the strengths of the book already when he covered the audio version. I still want to at least provide a short companion piece that reaffirms pretty much all of his praise, plus provides a small bit of criticism to counterbalance—perhaps less criticism than some would think, given my acidic impressions of the film itself.

First, a quick recap of the general story. Godzilla King of the Monsters is of course a sequel to the movie Godzilla from 2014; I also wrote up a review of the Greg Cox disappointing novelization of that film back in the day. The events of this film (and novel) pick up largely where Godzilla left off, with the world reeling a bit from the attacks of the MUTOs and Godzilla. In particular, the Russell family was torn apart as Godzilla’s little stroll through San Francisco ended the life of Emma and Mark Russell’s son (ala Gamera from Gamera 3: Advent of Legion). Mark responds by getting drunk and communing with wolves, while Emma takes their teen daughter Madison and develops a machine that can alter the moods of giant monsters. It turns out that anti-monster organization Monarch has been discovering many new monsters, and Emma’s device is effective in calming them down apparently. However, terrorists kidnap her and her daughter, and use the device to free a devilish monster called King Ghidorah from Antarctica, where the new monster faces off with Godzilla. In the aftermath, KG escapes, and monsters awaken across the globe as it turns out Emma is working with the terrorists to bring about a global about face to try to turn around climate change and kill lots of pesky polluting human beings. Godzilla and a beautiful moth monster called Mothra team up against KG and a magma beast called Rodan, and everything comes down to a massive clash with the world in the balance.

Overall, SF fantasy novelist Greg Keyes’ adaptation I think is a big step-up over Greg Cox’s work a few years ago (what’s with the Gregs adapting Godzilla movies?). Where Greg Cox’s novel was just littered with typos and mistakes, Keyes’ work had very few grammatical mistakes. And while I enjoyed Cox’s addition of a bit of humor and more background to the boring characters from the first book, Keyes book includes all of that and much more. As Noah pointed out, we get a LOT more monster action from the expanded cast of beasties in this book, including many monsters that didn’t even make the cut in the movie. A particular highlight for me was the Kraken sequence, as the monster proves to be clever AND dangerous. And of course we get a little glimpse at what Kong was doing while the apocalyptic events of the film took place, too. I also thought Keyes has a much better ear for dialogue than the screenwriters for the movie. I felt I could tell when the screenwriters’ words came in, as to me they sounded tone-deaf and lame, whereas the dialogue from Keyes sounded more natural. I am not saying this is fantastic stuff, but it’s serviceable and entertaining, and that’s all I really ask for a work like this. Some of the differences in the battles were also quite interesting here, the most dramatic for me being how the book doesn’t even hint that the sort of burning Godzilla that appears towards the end was actualized via Mothra magic. The action scenes, too, are fun and exciting. I think perhaps Keyes, who has built up his own fantasy franchises and original novels, may have an advantage because of those creative efforts over Cox, who almost exclusively wrote adaptations of others’ sci-fi and fantasy worlds.

Still, this is not to say that Keyes’ adaptation is flawless. There is a certain simplicity to Keyes’ prose here which does kind of make it read like it was aimed at a younger audience. It didn’t bother me, but I definitely noticed that sort of straightforward and simple style, and some may find that aspect of the writing off-putting (such as my colleague Chris Mirjahangir, who complained about the prose style and brought it more to my own attention when we discussed the book). Also, I still don’t think the actual story of the movie is very strong. Everything, to me, plays off better on the page than it did on the screen due to the fact that the writer can build up the characters and action more artfully (such as including a sort of countdown element to the final fight… if Godzilla doesn’t win quick against KG, then an army of monsters will fall upon and crush him!), but so much about the story is still insultingly dumb to me, from the pitiful use of the Oxygen Destroyer, to the know-it-all power of Mark Russell, to the aforementioned mediocre dialogue.

Still, for fans of the movie especially, there is definitely something to appreciate here. Even after coming away grossly disappointed by the movie, I still enjoyed reading this take, which says a lot. While certainly not as adept at capturing the power and excitement (and military precision) of monster battles that, say, Mark Cerasini did back in the day, Greg Keyes still did a fine job in my opinion, and this might be the king of the English Godzilla novel adaptations I have read so far.