Empire of the Sun

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Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard - 4 out of 5

This is the semi-autobiographical tale of young Jim & his experiences in Shanghai in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour. Set over several years we see Jim growing up from a naïve boy, through troubled adolescence, into an emotionally damaged young man.

To start with, the war comes to Jim's world & he finds himself wandering about alone & abandoned by virtually everyone, this bit of the book almost comes across almost as a post-apocalypse story, as he begins his search for his parents. This soon moves on to the main section of the novel where we see Jim in an internment camp with a group of international prisoners.

Jim constantly has split loyalties here between the Japanese & the Americans. The Brits never come over very well & Jim can't associate with them at all. I expected this to be a pretty grim depiction of prison life during the second world war, but Jim seems to rather like life there & even thrives on the experiences (apart from the lack of food that is). Whilst it's no holiday camp, the hardships aren't to bad & whilst Jim is rather taken advantage of, he seems to get on quite well there. That said by the end his is half starved to death & is going more than just a little mad.

I must get a hold of the Speilberg film version of this novel sometime.