Monday, 28 March 2016

#36 Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

The Man in the High Castle is a story of  a historical alternative reality in which Germany won World War II, it also has slight sci-fi themes embedded. It follows several different characters and their lives after the war. This is set in the USA fifteen years after the end of the war with both Germany and Japan now occupying the country. The west coast is occupied by Japan, the east coast is occupied by Germany and there is a strip not controlled by either nation referred to as the neutral zone. This causes a lot of racial and political tension throughout the book. One element that was particularly interesting to read was that Germany still controlled concentration camps and had moved them into America. 

The three main characters in this book are white Americans who lived in America before the war. The main protagonist is Frank Frink, a man on the brink of being fired. He works for a company that puts together collectible artifacts tying into that is Robert Childan who owns the collectibles shop, he sells to Japanese buyers who are only interested in artifacts directly related to the USA, Then there is Juliana, she lives in the neutral zone or free states as its also known as, as a character she constantly battles with her moral opinion on how the country is run and who and what to believe. 

When Juliana comes into contact with the book 'The Grasshopper Lies Heavy' a controversial story about the alternative history to the alternate history that we are already reading about which details how America won the war. Whats interesting is that each character comes into contact with this book at certain points but the stance and how they intrepid it is completely different. 

I really enjoyed the alternate reality elements of this story and felt that overall the plot and premise was very strong and compelling. The conspiracy and mystery aspect is executed perfectly, extremely detailed and constantly keeps the reader guessing as well as coming up with their own theories. 

The writing style is a bit bizarre, the sentences read very choppy and sometimes this massively interrupts the flow. It made me put the book down on several occasions and i feel if it was a bit more fluid i could have finished it in fewer sittings.

Throughout the story some of the characters become aware that there is two realities one in which Germany won and the other in which America won. This was a very strange thing to read about and felt at times disjointed from the main story. The ending felt incomplete to me, the last 20 or so pages just fell flat for me, i was considering giving it 5 stars before then but leaving the reader without an answer or closure is a huge no no for me so i had to downgrade its star rating. I gave it 4 as credit where its due it was one hell of a read! 

All in all i believe this will be adapted much better to screen than it comes across in literary form. I became very emotionally involved with the story but my main criticism is that it really lacked any kind of character development and the ending was practically non existent. 

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