Initially I rated this at four stars, but after reflecting further on this “masterpiece,” I have dropped it to three, and if we had half-star functionality might even drop it to two and a half. Influenced largely by the notoriety of the book and a fascination with the first two televised seasons, I confess to exaggerating my response and humbly beg forgiveness.
I don’t dispute the merits of Dick’s story as a significant point in his literary development and the alternate reality he creates is well-crafted. So much so that the setting put me in a depressed mood each time I opened the book. While that alone wouldn’t lead me to lower my rating, the lack of a clear beginning, middle and end left me searching for a story. Oppressive, rather than frightening, the setting dominates. Characters are strong and well developed but their arc is a bit vague. This felt more like a snapshot, or a day-in-the-life, of half a dozen characters.
Perhaps Juliana’s quest for sanity represents a statement on the human condition, but in the end, The Man in the High Castle didn’t take me anywhere. A healthy chunk of the original story was conveyed in the first two seasons of Amazon’smade-for-TV version. I’m mildly curious to see what the next seasons of the do with the seed Dick has planted as there will need to be significant divergence from the novel to sustain a larger story line.