United States of Japan

United States of Japan - Peter Tieryas Rating: 3.5 stars

The Eye of the World is a massive book so I decided to read this alongside it. The contrast between the genres made reading multiple books so much easier. Additionally, I got this book from Humble Bundle a while back and I’m glad I decided to read it. I really liked this book and I would have given it a higher score if it wasn’t for some things that bothered me. First, the things I liked.

I love the alternate history setting. I’m very fond of speculating on alternate history events and while WWII alternate histories aren’t my favorite- I’m from the Philippines- I liked the portrayal of an alternate United States. There’s this overarching theme of paranoia. There’s a lot of paranoia in the Empire from the secret police to loyalty to the USJ and to the Emperor. One of the characters pays lip service to loyalty but doesn’t actually appear to be truly loyal, while the other was loyal to the point of being zealous. I also liked how chapters were structured by time. You can read about events both in the present and the past which makes for pretty good exposition in my opinion. It’s showing, not telling. The overall worldbuilding with a sort of cyberpunk, futuristic 1980s the USA ruled by Japan was very intriguing if a bit lacking. Which brings me to the things that made me give this book a lower rating.

The worldbuilding wasn’t enough for me. I enjoyed reading about the world but there are some parts I found confusing and thought could have been explained better. There are parts where the worldbuilding was great and there are parts where I felt like it was lackluster. I also wish it had more descriptions. A lot of people don’t like overly descriptive books, but it’s something that I like in science fiction and fantasy. The world building alone wasn’t what bothered me, though. The characters felt flat and one-dimensional. Ben was pretty flat all throughout. It didn’t seem like he grew as a character and he stayed the same throughout the book. What depth there appears to be in his character were shown in the past segments but the present parts were lacking. Akiko’s character development felt haphazard and rushed towards the end when for the majority of the book, she was shown to be serious and a zealous officer of the USJ.

So, do I recommend this book?

If you like sci-fi, alternate histories, and giant killer robots, then the answer is yes.