Short Book Review: The Girl from Krakow by Alex Rosenberg

The Girl From KrakowSBR: The Girl from Krakow is yet another second world war book, but sets itself apart because of its Eastern European setting. There is history in the book and there is philosophy, apart from the fiction. History appears to be good. Philosophy is something I identify with, but the craft of fiction writing falters. Hence you have the same philosophy being spouted by too many unrelated characters as if the author can’t stop himself from pushing it down your throat. So despite identifying with it, after a while I could not stand it. The fiction is too fanciful at times, too many convenient coincidences happen. The language is also awkward in places, perhaps because the author is not a native English speaker.
To read or not to read: Yes – for the history and philosophy, not for the fiction.

Short Book Review: Fatherland by Robert Harris

FatherlandSBR: After The Man in the High Castle, my search for the next alternate history book, which didn’t involve magic, zombies, aliens etc. ended on Fatherland by Robert Harris. The book is based in an alternate history where Germany won the war in Europe and was established as the European superpower. If that had happened, what sense would the world and the German people themselves have made of the Nazi actions during the war and afterwards? With a murder mystery thrown in, replete with the usual fare of shocking revelations, interesting twists, a sanguine detective, and an unlikely assistant, it makes for a fun, entertaining read. In the process, we uncover the hazy realities of Nazi history in all its ghastly glory. The settings of the alternate history are in the background, not in your face, which works well for me. But apparently many alternate history buffs are dissatisfied with the lack of attention paid to the “history” part. It is also possible to point out unconvincing situations presented to the readers from time to time. But overall I liked the book.
To read or not to read: If you like mystery or alternate history, go right ahead.

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

The Man in the High CastleSBR: Watching the first season of the show The Man in the High Castle got me interested in alternate history as a genre, and the book behind the show seemed like a good place to start. That’s how I picked up the book. Not surprisingly, the book’s feel is very different from the show. It isn’t as plot driven as the show, the characters are much more loosely connected, and there is no story of the East Coast at all. I liked the book, overall, but its mystic ending didn’t sit well with me.
To read or not to read: Yes, if you are interested reading alternate history, because it is a classic of sorts in the genre. For entertainment and fun, the show does a better job by changing and adding all that it has done.