Memories From Monster Island: A Fun Stomp Through Toho's Godzilla Films
 Luca Saitta, Travis Kirkland
Language: English Release: 2015
Publisher: CreateSpace (self-published)
Pages: 64
Genre: Non-Fiction ISBN: 1515248801

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Nicholas Driscoll

My first thought upon seeing Memories from Monster Island: A Fun Stomp Through Toho’s Godzilla Films(originally titled "Memories Of Monster Island") was, “Oh for SERIOUSLY, another one?” After trudging through two humorous Toho movie review collections written by everyday fans—the somewhat crude There Goes Tokyo! and the very silly Titans of Toho—I couldn’t help but be dismayed with a THIRD one. Neither There Goes Tokyo! nor Titans of Toho are particularly good books—both are riddled with far too many editing oversights for paid prose, and neither is incredibly funny or insightful, though in the end I didn’t hate either of them. They just both seem really unnecessary, at least in book format. Unfortunately, Memories of Monster Island is no significant improvement, and would have been much better as a blog series or even a podcast.

Now Memories does do a few things differently than the previous two fan-books. While There Goes Tokyo! and Titans of Toho tried to cover all of Toho’s monster films, Memories from Monster Island focuses (almost) exclusively on the Godzilla series (bonus reviews of Rodan (1956) and Mothra (1961) are also included). Also, Memories gives two reviews for each film—one from a longtime Godzilla fan (Travis Kirkland), and one from a noob to tokusatsu (Luca Saitta, who apparently has written a few novels as well). The reviews are written as a lively conversation more than as separate analyses, with the two reviewers playing off of each other, asking each other questions, and generally having a ball discussing the Godzilla oeuvre. Thus Travis shares trivia about the films (though he never once cites where he gets his information) and common fan proclivities, whereas Luca surprisingly embraces the movies with a passion while also dismissing some fan faves (he really dislikes Rodan (1956)). That chatty style is the book’s strength—but the book is so sloppy that the tone comes across as careless as much as funny.

Both strengths and weaknesses play into the podcast-esque sense of the book. From beginning to end, the text feels like a transcription of a podcast—everything is written in a very conversational tone, free-wheeling and stream-of-consciousness, often with long rambling paragraphs, scads of words written in all-caps, and even ludicrous sound effects—such as when Travis makes a dumb pun and inserts “a hurr hurr.” Or they write huge and crazy expressions more akin to fan chatter you would find on Facebook or in forums, like when Luca, reacting to Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964), freaks out with, and I quote, “MAHGAAAWWWWDDDDD Travis BAHGAAAAAWWWWDDDD it was a truly royal kaiju rummmmmble!” Honestly I found their explosive enthusiasm amusing, which was the aim, although occasionally I got a bit tired of it. Note, too, that this is easily the most foul-mouthed Godzilla book I have ever read, with Luca especially indulging in the f-bombs and crudities (there are 38 f-bombs all told), and both reviewers often calling various monsters and characters “a#@hole” (21 times). For me, the constant slur of curses was kind of annoying, but some might appreciate their colorful descriptions.

However, just like in the previous two movie review collections, this one, too, is heavily laden with textual blunders. Sometimes I wondered if anyone had edited the blasted book. Early on, for example, Travis claims that 29 Godzilla reviews will be included... and then they include Godzilla (2014) anyway. In fact, attentive readers will notice when (in the process of writing the book) the pair saw the American Godzilla film based on their comments in the book—early on they wonder what Garteth Edwards’ film is going to be like, and then later one of the pair makes a snarky comment about the boring main character of the 2014 film. Again, it feels like a series of reviews posted online, not a coherent book. The more pedestrian spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors are also present in abundance, most egregiously represented by the following exchange about the 2014 film:

Travis writes: “You like dat radioactive breath too, Luca?”

Then Luca replies:

“yeah I was p down for it”

Uh, what happened? I will tell you what, I am NOT “p down” with completely careless editing goofs like this one!

Honestly, for me, I still enjoyed reading this book. Travis and Luca are kind of funny guys, and sometimes I found myself smiling at their humor—and Luca’s reaction to King Ghidorah’s roar (which he describes as “BOOP BOOP”) mirrored mine pretty much exactly when I first heard the tri-head terror’s cellphone jingle roar so many years ago. Some of the observations are kind of interesting, and this is a fast, fun read. Still, it’s hard to recommend this book for the same reasons as There Goes Tokyo! and Titans of Toho ultimately come across as a waste of money—funny reviews are available in the hundreds or thousands for free online, so why pay money for a book that contains several dozen poorly edited movie reviews slapped together in a collection? Like several previous books, Memories from Monster Island is unlikely to linger in one’s mind for long—which is really unfortunate.

Note on the cover: I bought my copy of Memories from Monster Island before it had a cute cover illustration, so I got a really boring cover for my Kindle version of this book. The illustrated cover is MUCH better.