Book Review: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick

Last year I got really into the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle which was set in an alternate reality where the allies lost the Second World War and the US had been split between the Nazis and Japanese. It was a tense, gripping drama and finding out it was based on a Philip K Dick novel made me intrigued as I’d enjoyed some of his stuff before. I mentioned wanting to read it and MWF got me it for Christmas.

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Unfortunately it falls far short of the TV show, which I loved. The book is massively disappointing especially as early on it shows great promise and highlights PKD’s imagination as a writer. The world he crafts is intriguing, complicated and terrible, with the Nazis eyeing up their only remaining opposition.

The problem is that the story gets bogged down in loosely connected, uninvolving subplots, many of which add nothing to the story and could have been left out with no impact. There are hints of more but these get lost in a confusing and dull storylines that fizzle out. It took me the best part of a month to read because having put it down, the urge to pick it back up wasn’t that strong.

PKD’s failings as a writer are thrust to the fore, with stilted, unnatural sounding dialogue and characters who aren’t fleshed out properly and act in daft, illogical ways. The strong female lead of the show is here a hysterical, skittish woman who flaps about and who I found thoroughly unlikeable.

The ending feels like PKD himself just lost interest and was extremely unsatisfying.

Aside from The Godfather I can’t remember another time a screen adaptation has developed and improved on a novel to such an extent.

Verdict: While Dick has good ideas and a few moments which hold the interest poor dialogue and characters made this a bit of a slog and I struggled to get that involved in it. A waste of a good idea with an ending which infuriated me. 4/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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