Title: Mecha Samurai Empire
Author: Peter Tieryas
Publish Date: September 18, 2018
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "A standalone book set
in the USJ universe, Mecha Samurai Empire focuses on a group of aspiring
mecha cadets preparing to fight the Nazis.
Foremost among them,
Makoto Fujimoto grew up in California, but with a difference--his
California is part of the United States of Japan. After Germany and
Japan won WWII, the United States fell under their control. Growing up
in this world, Mac plays portical games, haphazardly studies for the
Imperial Exam, and dreams of becoming a mecha pilot. Only problem: Mac's
grades are terrible. His only hope is to pass the military exam and get
into the prestigious mecha pilot training program at Berkeley Military
When his friend Hideki's plan to game the test goes
horribly wrong, Mac washes out of the military exam too. Perhaps he can
achieve his dream by becoming a civilian pilot. But with tensions rising
between Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany and rumors of collaborators and
traitors abounding, Mac will have to stay alive long enough first..."
My Two Cents:
"Mecha Samurai Empire" takes us back to the world first explored in "United States of Japan" where the author explores what would have happened if Japan and Germany had won World War II. This book focuses on Mac, who dreams of becoming a mecha pilot. The training is hard and Mac will have to prove himself over and over again but still may never meet his goal.
Mac is a great character and I loved seeing the book through his eyes. I immediately connected with him because of his passion and his drive. He is not the best student but you feel that he really wants to try and so you're rooting for him the whole way. He felt really realistic to me. Mac has to make some difficult choices throughout the book and I loved sticking with him all the way through.
One of the most important parts to me in any sci-fi book is the world building and like its predecessor, "United States of Japan," this book has great world-building. We get to see a lot of it through Mac's eyes and the training and tests that he must go through. We also get some of it in the way that the author describes just what is going on in this brave new world with the government. This book is definitely more hyper-focused on one aspect of this new world: the mechas, which meant that the world-building felt a bit smaller than USJ but was still quite good. You just don't get the thorough big picture like you did in USJ but it works for this book.
Overall, this was a good episode in the world of United States of Japan and I am looking forward to what comes next!