Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K Dick

The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've read a number of comments about the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle, most of them very favorable. So I decided to read the book the show is based on. The novel, of the same name, was written by Phillip K. Dick and published in 1962. The “what if” question behind the story has to do with what life would be like if World War II had been won by the Axis powers. The USA is now split in three: The eastern section controlled by Germany, the Western section controlled by Japan, and a neutral zone in the middle. Life is full of propaganda, assassins, and racial / religious bigotry, resulting in slavery for some and imprisonment or death for others. Life goes on, but with different rules. Some people hide their identities so they can work. Those lucky enough to belong to the approved groups still have to demean themselves when dealing with the conquerors.

PKD's ideas are fascinating and more focused on believable scenarios than a lot of the “B” movies, the ones that feature jack-booted thugs marching all over America. My one, big complaint concerns the plot. The book includes a number of stories about people with interconnected lives. All the stories start out in interesting ways, but stop without conclusions or fully connecting. Maybe that's why the Amazon executives decided to base a series on this novel. However, I feel the book would have worked better if it had been longer.

Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

After You by Jojo Moyes

After You (Me Before You, #2)After You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After You often refers back to Me Before You. The novel stands on its own with most of the plot lines, but I would advise readers to read the books in their intended order. You should, however, read them both. I love Jojo Moyes' writing, especially the way she handles her main character, Louisa Clark.

Louisa is an insecure young woman who has been though a very depressing experience, leaving her without a person she loved. She has moved out of her small English town and is now living in an inexpensive London flat, working as a waitress in an airport bar/restaurant. She's unhappy at her work and lonely when she's away from it.

The story starts with an accident, in the same manner as Me Before You. When I read the beginning, I worried that this book would be a rewrite of the first novel, from a different point of view. But the story took a different turn and I was glad I didn't give up on it.

The connection to the previous book comes through a character introduced later in the story. It's a good choice because it presents Louisa with a challenging situation she needs to grow into, while keeping much of her focus on the past rather than the future.

The plot is a bit disjointed, but comes together in the end. I also had trouble with one of the subplots, because it seemed unrealistic (that's the most I can say without including a spoiler). Yet overall the story works. It presents choices and challenges for Louisa that show her growing and changing.

After you is a good sequel and I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Me Before You.

Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul

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