The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is incredibly clever, but that didn’t translate directly to enjoyment for me. I was always initially interested, but I quickly fell asleep when I picked up the book in the evening. The biggest problem for me was that I didn’t care about any of the characters. None of the POVs had any moral fortitude, nor were they enjoyable antagonists.
I had other problems as well. Dick tackled big themes, but I’m not sure I always knew what his point was. Was he trying to say that we, as individuals, control our destinies, or we should just throw in the towel and let I Ching direct us on a need to know basis? I have no idea where Dick was going in Chapter 14 with Tagomi’s exploration of the pin. I had the feeling that was mumbo jumbo ramblings disguised to seem like something deep and intellectual. Also, the ending was lackluster. I didn’t mind ambiguity in the wrap-ups of each of the POV storylines, but I greatly disliked the ending as related to The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. That needed explanation. I’m not impressed when authors just throw out weird stuff, leave it to you to figure out and walk away.
On the whole, even though I didn’t love it, I would recommend this book. The themes were very relevant in the context of the 1960’s political and social environment. I appreciate sci-fi used as social commentary. Alternate realities aren’t particularly unique, but for some reason, when they are done well, they seem fresh. The Man in the High Castle isn’t ordinary. I can understand the wide appeal of this book.
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