United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In a world where the Axis won World War II and Japan controls the western United States, a censor named Ben Ishimura and a secret police agent named Akiko Tsukino are trying to find the source of a video game called USA, which allows players to play in a world where America never fell...
I initially passed on this when I saw it on Netgalley but Peter Tieryas seems like a pretty cool guy on Goodreads and on Twitter so I gave it a shot when it went on sale for $1.99.
United States of Japan is a spiritual successor to The Man in the High Castle, which I really need to read one of these days. The USJ is a paranoid dystopia where the Emperor is everything and to speak against him means death. Skyscraper-sized mecha patrol the cities and everyone carries a portable computer called a portcal.
Ben Ishimura is a censor whose attitude prevents him from going anywhere in his career. Akikio Tsukino is a cop whose career means everything. What happens when these two get forced to work together? A fun tale full of action and gore, that's what!
United States of Japan was a fun read, full of gruesome deaths, gore, cyberpunk awesomeness, and some giant robots roaming around the periphery. The paranoid feel made it pretty gripping at times. I had a feeling who was responsible for the USA game but I was off by a degree or two.
I didn't actually care for Ben that much. He's pretty passive for a lead character and his attitude got on my nerves. Akiko, on the other hand, ran the gauntlet over the course of the book and wound up being my favorite character, far from the mindless duty-bound cop she started the book as.
Aside from Ben, the only complaint I can think of would be that there weren't enough mecha battles. As a child of the 80's, I loved getting home from school in time to watch Voltron or Robotech and as such, can't get enough of giant robots duking it out.
United States of Japan makes dystopian alternate history fun! 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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