"When Evan’s father dies, Evan finds a hand-bound yellow book on his desk—a book his father had been reading when he passed away. It is the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island in WWII. Why was his father reading it? Who was the American soldier also stranded there? And what could this possibly mean for Evan?
This engrossing mystery novel is a suspenseful, at times terrifying read from award-winning writer Tim Wynne-Jones."
Honestly, I have very mixed feelings about this book. If I had known it was fantasy/supernatural, then I probably wouldn't be acting out like I am right now. But I didn't know, and I was totally surprised when a Japanese monster appeared out of nowhere. And I was like... Wait, but this is Historical Fiction. And there shouldn't be any strange supernatural happenings (unless otherwise stated). So, yes. I was (unpleasantly) shocked by the introduction of the monster and some weird reincarnation (well, actually preincarnation).
Anyway, The Emperor of Any Place is split into two major storylines. One shows the diary of the Japanese soldier who was stranded on the small Pacific island during World War II. The other storyline tells about Evan and his attempts to find the connection between the Japanese soldier and his father. To be honest, the diary plotline is much better told than Evan's arc. It's more exciting, fun, and dangerous. Plus, it feels a lot more realistic (despite preincarnation and the monster), because the soldier is very much human. And Evan... There's not as much growth in him.
The soldier provides an interesting perspective. Serving for his Emperor, he isn't the greatest soldier of all times. He has failed, yes. And he ends up stranded along with an American soldier. His culture has a large root in his personality. I especially love the research put in this book. (But I must point out that I am not Japanese, and therefore, I can't tell how much is accurate. I know only some of the culture. Not all of it.)
And the ending is perhaps the strangest part of all. Ending with Evan's perspective, there is a whole bunch of shenanigans that don't really make any sense. And I end up scratching my head and wondering if I should even try to figure out what's happening. (I decided not to.)
Overall, The Emperor of Any Place leaves me with very mixed feelings. Though it has a great conflict and lots of action, it's definitely not the one for me. I'm thoroughly confused thanks to this book, and I didn't exactly have a (very) fun time reading this book. So no.
Rating: One out of Five