Confession time: I watched the show before I read the book.
The show captivated me from the very beginning. The premise is an alternate history where Germany and Japan won World War II. It takes place in the United States and the Germans have control of the Eastern shore and much of middle America while the Japanese have control of the states in the West. There are a lot of strong characters who in my opinion are fairly well-developed. There is Juliana Crane (also in the book) who is the protagonist. She finds herself joining a rebellion after the untimely death of her sister. She is a character who finds herself with an entirely new perspective on her totalitarian world. It was as though she was floating through it unaware before but the veil was lifted from her eyes with the harsh reality of Japanese rule. Then there is John Smith, a leader in the American Nazi regime. He is ruthless but quite effective in his cause. He does end up questioning some of the purity and genetic laws in place because his son is diagnosed with a serious illness. What is a leader in the Reich to do?!
There are several characters from the book who are similar to their counterparts in the book. However, I tend to like the characters in the show more than in the book. There isn’t enough time to develop each character’s history in the book because the author introduces a lot of individuals and it’s only 270 pages. Also, why does the book stress the use of the I-Ching so much? Perhaps it is to show the spiritual nature of the Japanese as opposed to the sterility of the German regime.
I will continue to read Philip K. Dick’s books and I will continue to watch the show. They are up to season three now but waiting is NOT easy!