This is only the second book that I ever read by Haruki Murakami. I read 1Q84 a few years ago and really loved it. I was enthralled by the whole world that Murakami created and was really excited to read another book by him. I chose this book for my 24-hour readathon.
Maybe this wasn’t the best follow up book for me because I found that it fell a little flat compared to my expecatations. Part of this might have something to do with the size of the book as it was a mere 468 pages compared to the tome that is 1Q84 in its hardback edition, so the scope of the world seemed lesser. It also meant that there was less time to build a complete world and have it fully come together.
That being said I think it was a wonderful work of fiction. I like it more now that there is more time separating me from the book.
The novel follows two main plot paths, the first of Kafka a run away teen who ends up living in a library, and Nakata an old man who can talk to cats due to a childhood trauma. Both of these plots had their weird moments and were, at times, very unsettling. The beginning of the novel spends a half the time jumping back to the 1940’s when Nakata’s class was knocked unconscious by a mysterious force and then just a mysteriously recovered, other than him. He spend several months in a coma and then woke up with severe mental disabilities.
This conversation, along side the conversations around trans identity that take place in the novel, are definitely the strong points. Both of those discussions are done in sensitive and realistic ways and I really enjoyed them. I did not enjoy, however, the parts about statutory rape, suicide, undiagnosed mental illness, possibly schizophrenia, and other of the more unsavory bits.
I rated this book 3 out of 5. I often this that part of this may be because I read this in one sitting where this is a book that is more suited to quite contemplation over longer periods of time. The plot moves quite slowly and often feels disjointed, but the end of the book does a good job at tying all the lose ends together. Although I’m not sure that I would read this particular book again by Murakami, I am looking forward to reading more of his books.