Godzilla Invades America is an American children's book by Scott Ciencin.
A secret experiment in nanotechnology accidentally mutates tiny creatures to extraordinary proportions. While Blackstone, Nevada is being attacked by a giant scorpion, L.A. finds itself under attack from Godzilla. Fortunately for the citizens, a twelve-year-old psychic named Tomoyuki reaches out with his mind to calm the kaiju.
Godzilla recognizes that Tomo was sentient like him, and leaves the city to move further inland in search of whatever had awakened him from his sleep underneath the Sea of Japan. He refrains from attacking the humans now that he knows they are sentient, though he is unable to contain his rage at the skyscrapers that he believes mock him.
Tomo, wanting to help Godzilla, stowaways in a government plane. He overhears a discussion with a kaijuologist, Dr. Hiro Kuroyama, and reveals himself to volunteer information. Hiro, who happens to be reading a manga about psychic kids, believes him.
Then the plane is suddenly attacked by a giant praying mantis dubbed "Kamacuras" by people who misheard Hiro's shout of "kamakiri (praying mantis)". The plane crashes, and they barely escape an attack by a giant spider on their way to the government facility. Once there, they find the place overrun by twelve-foot ants that can grow and shrink at will.
Godzilla then joins them in the general area. He finds the other kaiju and realizes that it was their pain that woke him up. He tries to make friends with them, but they take his advances as hostile. Finally, the scorpion realizes his intentions, and plays with him for a bit.
Meanwhile, the humans figure out that using freezing weapons reverts the size alterations, and they take back the facility. Plans are soon made to use similar weapons against Godzilla. Tomo objects to the plan, but he is sent home.
In order to buy time until the new weapons can be produced, Godzilla and Sasori are together attacked by U.S. military with the intent of keeping them contained. However, the two kaiju work as a team and annihilate them. Enraged, they head for Las Vegas.
Tomo escapes from his escorts, and hitches a ride back to the area around the facility. Using his gift, he discovers a whole nest of mutated creatures, and they run to tell Hiro. However, they soon realize they need to head to Vegas.
Kuromonga and Kamacuras beat them all to the city, and they start recking havoc until the other kaiju show up. Together, Godzilla and Sasori take on Kuromonga and Kamacuras. Then the military shows up and attacks all of them.
Tomo is unable to dissuade the military from using their freezing weapon on Godzilla, and mentally projects a warning to the kaiju. Godzilla then remembers that humans are sentient like him and attacks his scorpion friend to protect some civilians. It's too late to retract the order to fire, but Sasori attacks Godzilla and gets part of the blast.
Sasori shrinks to normal size, while Godzilla remains frozen. Kuromonga and Kamacuras get away, the military chasing after them. Then the weapon begins to explode. Godzilla breaks free from the ice and uses himself to shield the city from its explosion.
Everyone celebrates, but then mourns the 'death' of their hero. But, of course, Godzilla is still alive and heads back into the ocean. Tomo returns home to find himself popular for once in his life. Hiro's team finds the nest... but all of the kaiju have left.
- Tomoyuki - Twelve-year-old psychic
- Dr. Hiro Kuroyama - Japanese-American kaijuologist
- Colonel Ben Tyler - Officer escorting Hiro to Cryo Chemical
- Claire Detweiler - Scientist at the labs
After reading Godzilla King of the Monsters, Ciencin's first junior novel in a series of four, I was unimpressed but curious. While his take on Godzilla wasn't amazingly inventive or even particularly interesting, it was fairly pleasant, largely brainless reading. I am ever and always a sucker for new Godzilla fare anyway, and I had always wanted to read his junior novels for that very reason. I was willing to give him a second chance. I just didn't realize I was about to get Barneyzilla.
In Godzilla Invades America, Ciencin's apparent counterpart to Cerasini's Godzilla 2000 novel, the author continues the long-held tradition of movie monster sequels—adding more monsters. The story follows young Tomoyuki (presumably named after legendary Toho producer, Tomoyuki Tanaka, who died that year and to whom the novel is dedicated), a teenage Japanese orphan (again) sent to live with his cousins in America. Of course, he's an outcast. He's awkward and stands out and is picked on by his peers. And, conveniently, Tomoyuki has special powers—he can communicate with animals with his mind, reading their emotions and projecting his own, something he does to command and cajole his pet cat, C.B. But then he starts picking up another set of animalistic emotions—strong ones, overwhelming emotions overflowing with wrath. Yes, Tomoyuki isn't the only displaced being from Japan—Godzilla is visiting as well, and he's angry!
Godzilla shares more with Tomoyuki than just his homeland - the big lizard also shares the protagonist's psychic abilities. The reason that he came to America, and more specifically to Los Angeles and Las Vegas and the surrounding areas, was due to a psychic link that was somehow established between himself and the newborn gigantic monsters created via scientific mishap in a desert-based facility there. Soon Godzilla is fighting and, more to the point, romping with Kamacuras, Kumonga, and Ciencin's own kaiju creation, Sasori, a gargantuan scorpion. But while Godzilla is out making friends, the military wants Godzilla dead, and Tomoyuki finds himself wrapped up in Godzilla's destiny, trying to solve the mysteries behind the monsters, and attempting to help the army understand the terminally misunderstood big G before it's too late.
With this novel, Ciencin takes Godzilla's anthropomorphic qualities to new heights - or depending on your point of view, new lows. In Godzilla Invades America, Godzilla isn't so much a dangerous monster with a grudge against humankind as he is a lonely beast in search of a friend. More than anything, Godzilla wants someone to play with and spend time with. Godzilla's a big softy, and pretty soon he makes friends with Sasori (which, in case anyone was wondering, actually does mean "scorpion" in Japanese), who is quite intelligent for an arachnid. They roughhouse and enjoy the scenery and even play pranks on each other. At times, I started thinking Godzilla was more like an edgier and much bigger version of a certain friendly purple dinosaur. Of course, Godzilla still smashes buildings and various military vehicles, but in the world Ciencin has crafted, nobody really dies - or if they do, nobody mentions it. This is entertainment for the very young, but having a big monster smashing a city while denying the casualties and refusing to villainize him in any way seems misguided and just plain dumb to me, and I had a similar reaction to much of what Marvel did with the character. The prevailing sentiment seems to be "he didn't mean it, so it's not his fault"—but when thousands of lives are at stake, it just seems insulting.
Continuing the trend from the last book, the human characters aren't particularly deep either. Tomoyuki gets the most attention, and we sympathize with him because he's the outcast and the orphan—but that's about it. He's not a very interesting character, even with his psychic abilities. He's heroic and noble and cares about others, but he never seems human. The other characters, with the exception of an over-the-top teenage Elvis impersonator, are almost instantly forgettable. Of course, we didn't come for the humans, and Ciencin does give us a lot of monster-time—but most of it is not very engaging. The most exciting bits involve some action involving man-sized ants capturing folks in the aforementioned scientific facility, but it's kind of a throw-away scene. The scariest stuff is the artwork by Bob Eggleton, who this time provides a fantastic front cover as well as creepily sketchy black-and-white illustrations on the inside. This being the popular Heisei design, Godzilla looks downright mean and nasty, which doesn't match the action very well.
By the end of the novel, Ciencin has set us up for the sequel with a number of new monsters on the way while Godzilla is showing signs of returning to his heroic days of the '60s and '70s, and Tomoyuki finishes up the his story by easily treading through the usual clichés and suddenly being cool to all the kids. It's hard to care very much about what's going on, and ultimately this Godzilla invasion on American soil is as dubiously entertaining as a lot of the other American Godzilla material. It's just mediocre, and the king of the monsters should never be that.
|Random House Juvenile Novels|
|Godzilla: King of the Monsters | Godzilla Invades America | Godzilla: Journey to Monster Island | Godzilla vs. the Space Monster|