Decades ago, Japan won
the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and
nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but
exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy
group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is
to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what
the world might be like if the United States had won the war instead.
Captain Beniko Ishimura’s job is to censor video games, and he’s working with Agent Akiko Tsukino of the secret police to get to the bottom of this disturbing new development. But Ishimura’s hiding something… He’s slowly been discovering that the case of the George Washingtons is more complicated than it seems, and the subversive videogame’s origins are even more controversial and dangerous than either of them originally suspected.
Part detective story, part brutal alternate history, United States of Japan is a stunning successor to Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.
My Review (Warning contains spoilers)
If you’ve watched the Man in the High Castle’s last and final season, and you’re in the mood for more alternate history scenarios like the Axis’s powers winning WWII, look no further than the United States of Japan.
First off, I wish to see more points of view from an Asian perspective especially in sci-fi/alternate history. The Japanese Viewpoint is relatively under-explored in WWII. Second, the writing and the prose is top notch. Third, this is a book full of gore. Fourthly, that was a feature of the times, especially in Japan.
I like how Peter displays the stunning incompetence that the Japanese Military leadership had with the ruling of their empire. The Japanese military had been quietly removing ministers of the civilian cabinet that led to the invasion of Manchuria without the Emperor’s approval. I feel that the amount of research is impeccable. And that Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire were two corrupt regimes. The military acted much like the feudal warlords of Japan, whose main aim and purpose had been to keep the Emperor a figure-head. In many ways, I love how Peter built this new world. Showing us how Japanese culture influenced America, and literally most of American history has been reduced to shreds.
The concept of video games as a device of war is also a brilliant idea. They are used by the Empire as a propaganda tool to control their population. The Martha Washingtons remind me of Juliana Crain and the Resistance. Akikio and Beniko Ishimura. I feel these characters had the most tragic endings. Read onto the page, and Beniko’s build-up and character plot has been well done. Beniko is a character that will make you cry, laugh and surprise. That is all I can say. The fanaticism of the Japanese military has also been well reflected in society.
It confused me what had happened to the Nazis, however. I would have liked to see more viewpoints of theirs. This book is hefty, well written, well researched, and there are so many tiny details that I cannot pinpoint all of them out. But this is a fantastic novel. It needs to be read. This will be the book of the century. I feel Amazon should pick this show up and develop it in two years to not develop fatigue setting so to say. The sequel will now be released for 2020 and I cannot wait to read it.
My Rating: 5/5
Ready on 5th March 2020