An alternate history wherein Japan and Germany won World War II. And things are as dystopiate (is that a word? I just invented it) as one would expect.
The thing one must realize when approaching a Philip K. Dick novel is that he doesn’t write normal stories. In the slightest. He doesn’t always write in a fashion that entirely makes sense. He often goes inside a character’s head, into not just their thoughts but their very meat, and struggles to find his way back out. I thought I was ready for that here, but in the end, I think this is why the book lost me. I started off feeling some momentum, but I ended up feeling unfulfilled and confused and generally… not entertained. There were some strong characters here that I got attached to (with the exception of Childan, who I couldn’t stand from the very beginning), but the story was so unorganized and spontaneous in a bad way.
I think I also went into this book with false expectations. The last book I’d read by him was Ubik, and it blew me away. It was so adventurous, cinematic, and exciting. This book’s tone is entirely different, and when I’d heard the premise, somehow I expected it would be more kinetic. So when we’re treated to plots about fake memorabilia and jewelry making that seem to drag and lead nowhere, I was disappointed.
This book was trying to say something, and I feel I missed the point entirely. I can’t tell if that’s my fault or not. Maybe my lack of interest in heavily political plots has something to do with it. Or my expectations. Or PKD’s habit of taking rabbit trails that don’t serve the story. Either way, this didn’t live up to the extreme hype surrounding it.