Friday, May 6, 2016

Book Review: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Like many others today, I first heard of this book through the Amazon TV series. After enjoying the first season, I wanted to go to the source so to speak, so I decided to read the book. Anyone else who has done the same will agree that this was an unfortunate decision, ha ha.

The Man in the High Castle tells the story of what the world would be like if the Germans and Japanese won World War II. The United States is divided into the East and West to split control between Germany and Japan with a sort of no-man's-land in the Rocky Mountains. Frank Fink works as a machinist in San Francisco who eventually becomes a jewelry designer, making free-form "mod" pieces to sell to the Japanese in his area. Juliana Fink is Frank's estranged wife who lives in the Rocky Mountain States, working in a diner serving those who pass between the two countries. She meets a trucker named Joe who she becomes involved with. Joe decides to skip his journey back to the states and stay on with Juliana, taking her out and spending a large amount of money getting the two of them dolled up before proposing they visit a famous and controversial author who lives in Wyoming. This author's book is banned in German areas and frowned upon by the Japanese, but it spreads like wildfire through the people due to its content: it tells about what the world could be like if Germany lost the war.

Having enjoyed the Amazon series of this story so much, the book left me less than enthused. The series only really kept the characters names and overall idea of the story, changing the events completely. This isn't the book's fault by any means, but going into it expecting something completely different is never going to yield a good feeling in the end. I enjoyed how much the book shows aspects of Japanese culture as well as the intriguing use of the i ching throughout and by everyone. I confess though that I did not fully understand the motives of some of the characters or even why their story needed to be told. It left me underwhelmed. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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