Riding Godzilla
 P.S. Foley
Language: English Release: 2006
Publisher: Seven Locks Press
Pages: 248
Genre: Fiction ISBN: 1931643741

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Back Cover
Nicholas Driscoll

Okay, just looking at the cover, I knew this one had a very low chance of having any significant relation to Toho's Godzilla. Riding Godzilla is a book for younger readers (preteens perhaps) about that glutted cliché, a girl and her horse. The cover (art done by the author's wife) shows a blurry humanoid figure on the back of a black stallion with purple highlights in its hair. Purple highlights! I never thought Godzilla would take me into such girly literature, but I Want to Marry Godzilla and Have His Children and this obscure nugget have proved me quite wrong. Unfortunately for Godzilla fans, the book did not likewise prove my initial impressions incorrect. The horse is named Godzilla because of his size, and that is the only connection to the movies.

All right, a late sequence in the story features Godzilla going on a “rampage” while being chased by armed police who eventually (MASSIVE SPOILERS) apparently kill the animal in a lake, from which it rises again to avenge the deaths of his velociraptor spawn… I mean return to his beloved friend, the little girl Cassie. But only a desperate Godzilla fan would look for such tenuous connections, and thankfully I am not that nuts. (END SPOILERS)

Are you still reading this review? Does that mean you still want to know what the book is about? Whether it's any good? Come on, I spent some time reading 248 pages just for this review. I'll make it short.

Story—Cassie is a poor girl with a single mother whose father has just died. Soon, through some convoluted plotting, she begins riding lessons at an expensive school nearby, in exchange for helping out the secretly rich custodian, and eventually becomes friends with a violent, emotionally disturbed and enormous horse named Godzilla. (She nicknames him "Dilly.") As Cassie improves through hard work and perseverance, the evil spoiled rich girl Rebecca becomes envious, and her evil rich father, Mr. Simms (he who lives only to please his daughter, and who looks down his nose at poor people—Eeeeevil!) is filled with wrath. As tensions heat up, and Cassie actually beats Rebecca in some competitions, Mr. Simms will do anything to stop Cassie and make his daughter happy—up to and including killing Godzilla!

The drama runs high, but the plotting and characters are shallow. Cliches run rampant. When a problem arises, Cassie is just amazing and overcomes it, or super-custodian just happens to be rich enough to save the day. Character motivations are barely sketched in, usually. Even Cassie is mostly uninteresting—she works hard and is just awesome at whatever she puts her mind to. Even taming Godzilla is a snap for her. Whoopee. Where's the struggle? Even when she wins a medal, the victory is barely touched on before the plot zooms along on its merry way. The villains, on the other hand, are utter cartoons, minus comical mustaches and massive sneering grins.

And the writing is almost as poor as Cassie and her mom. On a basic level, Foley uses repetitive sentence structures, which hampers reading. Along with the uninspired characters and forced plotting, dialogue and descriptions are bland. Come to think of it, Riding Godzilla doesn't have any particular strong points other than a positive social message—work hard and chase your dreams!

Still, this is a book for younger readers. If you don't know much about horses (like me), you can learn a few things. And, despite everything, despite the tenor of this review, I did enjoy reading the book—it was still leagues ahead of several other books I have reviewed for this site. (I would say Riding Godzilla is better than, oh, Giant Monster Movies, Godzilla Meets Master Charge, Godzilla Rabbit, Godzilla Discovers America, I Want to Marry Godzilla and Have His Children, and, especially, Godzilla is in Purgatory: Featuring the Promise of a Gift for all Humanity—oi.) Actually, I left Riding Godzilla lying around at my parents' house, and my dad, a voracious reader, snapped it up (probably read it in less than an hour) and told me it was wonderful. So, to each his own Godzilla, but with all its problems (writing, characters, dialogue, plotting, etc, etc), I prefer my irradiated saurian over a saccharine equine—although a radioactive monster is probably a lot harder to ride.