Review: Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

sputnik-sweetheart1Ah. Murakami. It’s a long time since I’ve completely immersed myself in a Murakami – by that I mean it’s a long time since I found one of his novels so utterly readable. Murakami is a very hit and miss author for me, while I sometimes love his work there have been a number of books that I’ve read and really struggled through.

Sputnik Sweetheart was one of the more readable and approachable of Murakami’s work from what I’ve experienced. While not as packed full of his usual magical realism elements, it was still a good read once I got in to it.

We follow the story of Sumire, a young woman who falls in love with another woman – Miu. It’s told from the perspective of Sumire’s friend, who we only know as K. We follow the period of Sumire’s life in which she meets Miu and how their lives overlap and fall in to sync with each other, we follow them on a tour of Europe when something then happens to Sumire.

It’s an interesting look at passion and the borderline with obsession. It was an interesting look at sexual fluidity and desire. But there was something lacking, some of this felt rushed and some felt that it wasn’t giving me all it could. The ending was just “boom and I’m done” and that frustrated me somewhat because, as always, Murakami left the ending up to interpretation for the reader rather than closing it all nicely and putting a bow on it!

This was a very passive narration which I think really fitted the story well. It was fluid and easy to read, it was quick to read. It just left me feeling a little empty. I think with Murakami, instant impressions are not a fair representation of his work because often I have to settle down and think about what I’ve actually read and process it fully. Sometimes my impressions are improved, or in the case of Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, my initial impressions are generous!

My main thought with this book is that I really need to go and read 1Q84 again because this reminded me of it so much! Mainly the focus on the moon which was a really big focus in 1Q84.

So, ultimately this is one of the better of Murakami’s books I’ve read but still left me wanting more. First impressions give this a 3/5!

Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami

hbwateotwThis might be an unpopular opinion but this book didn’t grip me from the offset. In fact, I really debated putting this down within the first 100 pages because it was just so… bland. And also, it really riled me up. I won’t lie.

Genuinely, my inner feminist was screaming reading this book. Within the first chapter we have an entire paragraph dedicated to justifying why a ‘chubby’ woman is still attractive. Seriously. The only identifying feature he gave this woman was ‘chubby’. Whenever this girl is mentioned, her weight is mentioned, her size is mentioned and that made me angry. Oh and also, there was half a chapter about how she makes really good sandwiches! It made me even angrier when in chapter 7 another female character is introduced and her defining feature is ‘slim’. Yep. Maybe I was a little intolerant of it but this pissed me off to no end to the point I wanted to throw the book across the room in spite of the fact that I was just starting to enjoy it. I know it was written in 1985 and ‘times were different’ but seriously, I’m not down with this objectification of women and outright misogyny!

But the thing is, Haruki Murakami just has a gift when it comes to creating an atmosphere, it’s something I really appreciate in an author and this ‘atmosphere’ thing features heavily in a lot of books that I enjoy. When reading some of this I felt like it could do with being a black and white adaptation with a heavy voiceover, it was foggy and mysterious and yes… I do really love that in a book. All the issues I have aside, I can’t help but compulsively read a Murakami book.

Forgetting the fact that women can evidently only be identified by their body mass, this was okay. After I got in to it around the 100 page mark I really enjoyed the story. Some of it was surplus to requirements, shall we say but the main crux of it was really engaging. It’s essentially two stories that eventually weave together, but as with all Murakami it is really best to go in blind and just let the story take you! To be fair to this book, it is an amazing story, it was a masterful novel but I just can’t get over how it made me feel on the angst front. Murakami may be a master with atmosphere but he is awful at writing women and for that reason I didn’t enjoy this to it’s 3/5 from me

Review: Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

kafkashoreThis 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.




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Review: Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami

murakami coverI think it’s fair to say this book wasn’t what I was expecting; but then, what really is expected when Murakami is at the helm? I haven’t had much prior experience with Murakami, I didn’t much enjoy Norwegian Wood when I’ve tried to read it but I absolutely loved 1Q84 – which is apparently a very different opinion to the masses! There was a question on Goodreads asking if disappointment in 1Q84 affected decisions as to whether or not to read this book – my answer to that is I loved 1Q84 so it absolutely affected my decision, in a positive way. I cannot remember the last time I bought a book (even an eBook) on release day. It was probably Harry Potter.

Back to this book, it’s about a man named Tsukuru Tazaki.  At the age of 20, Tsukuru Tazaki is kicked out of his group of five friends, three boys and two girls. Each of them has a colourful name: Red, Blue, White and Black, except for Tsukuru. It’s representative for the way he thinks about himself: colourless, with nothing valuable to offer the rest of the group – or even the world. This book follows him – in a series of present day tellings and flashbacks that cover the course of the 16 years since that day.

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