Thoughts on The Man in the High Castle

Thoughts on The Man in the High Castle

I had never heard about this book until I saw trailers for the Amazon show. I must say I am impressed. This book falls in the genre of alternate history/high concept asking ‘what-if’. This particular book asks the question what if the Axis powers won the second world war. The way PKD takes the readers through the journey of answering that question is particularly gripping. The world building that takes place almost throughout the book is very vivid and well described. The setting is the America who lost the war and has now been divided to be ruled by the Nazi Germany and Japan.

The characters are human, that is to say there are no heroes just ordinary people going through an extraordinary life. On one hand, this makes them a little bit relatable, I think but also hard to care about on the other. That could also have been caused by the lack of a fleshed out villain. Sure the Nazi party fills in the role of the ‘big bad’, but it does not play an active part in the story rather is just present as an artifact of the setting. There is one more nitpick, something that threw me off initially. It is that the prose describing the character’s thoughts is a bit jumpy. The sentences are broken, sometimes a single word. I found that jarring and interesting later, thinking that this may have been done to convey the speed of thoughts. This may be a minor spoiler although it is presented pretty early in the book, there is also a plot thread about a book which describes what-if the Allied powers had won the war. The way this is handled is particularly interesting and thought provoking.

Overall, this was a great read and was incidentally my first read on the Fire tablet. I would recommend this book to anybody who is into speculative fiction and the history of the second world war.