This book could have been amazing the potential is there but I found it to be a very inaccessible read. The main idea is that the Axis powers won World War II and now America is divided between the Japanese and the Germans. The characters are all in the states and all of their stories are occurring simultaneously. It has only been a few weeks since I finished the book and I actually can’t remember all the character’s names. The ones that did stand out were Julia Fink, Frank Fink and Robert Childan. I know there were others but nothing about them makes them memorably to me.
Full disclosure: This is my second time reading this book but it is the first time I have actually read it to finish. The last time I read it I was still in school, transition year to be exact. I didn’t finish it. At the time I was very impatient and disliked slow books. I would power through books reading them as fast as I could. It would not be until much later did I realize the problem with that. That just because a book is slow does not mean that it is bad, sometimes amazing stories need time to build. So having learned that and having finished a college I decided to return to this book. Only to learn that it wasn’t just my approach that was the problem but that the book itself has a problem.
Many fascinating things happen in the book. For example the book within a book ‘The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’ and the sections from it were fascinating. Julia Fink’s story was be far the most interesting part of the story as she meets the authors of the book in a book. The ending where it becomes clear the characters are within a multiverse were every possibility of what could have happened did happen. Or how the I Ching that is the guiding force in the book is actually the writer of ‘The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’.
So why with all this does the book fail to be truly engaging? The main problem is that there are too many characters to be keeping track of. There about seven point of view characters and none of them big players in the scheme of things. Rather they are more like the characters from China Mountain Zhang, the common man trying to get by. While that is a route the story can take if Philip Dick wanted it to having to keep track of all these different people is confusing. Particularly when the book tends to jump around between each of these different characters.
The story would have worked better if it had told each of the characters’ stories one by one rather then trying to interwove them together in the way the book does. When you have so many characters, some of whom never meets, it creates confusion over who to focus on. Which makes the book a struggle to read. Which really is unfortunate as the book does deal with some pretty fascinating ideas but execution comes off rather clumsily.
Note: I hope you enjoyed reading this review and my other posts. I started this blog so I could publish my own work because chances to get your work published are usually far and in between. Because I’m doing this on my own I don’t have anyone advertising this. So, if you are enjoying my writing please share my blog posts with people who you think will also enjoy them. It would mean a lot to me. A big thank you to anyone who does this and to people who have already been reading. It means a lot to me.