In an alternate history where Japan defeated the United States in WWII, we follow the story of Beniko Ishimura (his mother was certain he'd be born a girl). He's considered the laziest Captain in service to the Emperor who only got a cushy job because of his connections. When he receives a call from a missing General asking him to take care of his daughter's funeral, Ben quickly gets caught up in interrogations by the Tokko (secret police) and their investigations into the source of a subversive video game.
This is not a book for the feint of heart. There's a lot of death, some simple, most pretty gruesome. The book begins in a Japanese internment camp in 1948 and does not let up on intensity until the very end. This entire book was such an emotional journey I ended up crying. That being said, if it weren't an amazing book, I wouldn't have been so emotionally invested that I cried.
United States of Japan is a real page turner. It almost hurt to put it down whenever I had to eat because I didn't want to miss anything. Tieryas does an excellent job of pacing the book and revealing facts and new information in such a way that you HAVE to read the book through to the end to figure it all out. Don't get me wrong, one or two things I saw coming, but it was such an intense, well paced read that I had to finish it. And that ending was completely worth it, heartbreak and all!
The world this takes place in is so interesting. I really believe Tieryas did a great job recreating the world from this alternate history. There were so many aspects of the international repercussions of the war that I never would have thought of. Admittedly, the more advanced technology may be wishful thinking, but this is alternate history with science fiction mixed in. Tieryas kinda keeps everything in California, but still creates so many layers to the world that it really sells how different this reality is. At no point did I feel like any detail of the world was out of place or odd because it all fit with this alternate history.
I truly love this book. Yes, it's emotional, but it's so engaging and immersive. I couldn't stop reading it (so glad I picked it up during the weekend and not when I had to work). If you can handle how much violence there is in it, it's a wonderful book that will keep your attention through the end. I happily give United States of Japan 5 hoots and am eagerly waiting for the next one!