This book is quite different. I’m always surprised whenever I read a Murakami book, even though a general rule is expect the unexpected. I’ve struggled for a long time to get in to Murakami, I know so many people who love his writing and I just didn’t and that bothered me. In hindsight I realise I started in the wrong place and I’m now a lifelong convert and intending to devour as much of his work as I possibly can.
There aren’t words for Murakami’s work. There is no real way to describe the bizzare things that happen, and I think there are no other authors that could write something so odd and make it seem so normal! It was a page turning crazy whirlwind and I couldn’t put it down. It started off a bit slow, a bit confusing in parts, but as always with Murakami it was steady and serene and the writing itself was captivating enough to keep the pages turning.
“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”
I don’t think I can adequately cover the plot of this story without entirely ruining it for someone who wants to read it. Essentially, it’s a story told from 2 different perspectives but as with all good two-narrator stories, they interlink and weave together seamlessly.
We have Kafka Tamura – a 15 year old boy who decides to take life in to his own hands and run away from his father, looking for something that’s been missing in his life. It maybe his mother, but that’s really just a metaphor. And then we have Nakata, an older man who, after a freak accident during the war, as a child lost his ability to comprehend reality, but he can talk to cats. Standard.
The background characters are just as colourful; in Kafka’s side of the story we have Oshima (who I won’t talk about as by explaining him in detail would reveal a rather surprising moment in the book which I really want to keep for those that haven’t read this book yet). Let’s just say he isn’t exactly who he seems, but he is exactly who he says he is. And we have Miss Saeki, a librarian with a deep story of her own. Then with Nakata we have Hoshino; seemingly the only normal person in this odd band of people, he has his own fair share of crazy however!
This book is sort of a step down from 1Q84, a book that I adored (and actually, the first Murakami I enjoyed) and there is a good lashing of the magical realism that Murakami is so good at.
Personally, if you’re new to Murkami, I wouldn’t start here. But it depends what you like, really. I didn’t enjoy Norwegian Wood when I tried it, but have subsequently loved a number of his other works.
I can’t quite bring myself to give this 5/5. It’s good but there was just something lacking in it. So it’s a 4.5/5 for me.