Toru just started university in Tokyo when he runs into Naoko. Naoko used to be Toru’s best friend Kizuki’s girlfriend but after Kizuki committed suicide, they fell out of touch. Toru and Naoko start hanging out, then sleep together but afterwards, Naoko disappears. After a bit Toru finds out that Naoko is staying at a sanatorium. While she is gone, he meets Midori who is pretty much everything Naoko is not. Even though Toru is completely devoted to Naoko, his friendship with Midori deepens.
Murakami writes wonderful prose and that’s true for this book as well. But it took me pretty long to get into it and in the end the book just didn’t satisfy me.
The book is not very long, but it does take surprisingly long to read. Maybe because it just took a while until I got into the story and the characters. I did get into it in the end, thanks to Reiko who I liked (despite the dubious backstory) and Midori, who is made of win with a topping of awesome sauce. She really is my favorite thing about both the book and the film.
Generally speaking Murakami writes good characters and beautiful prose. Nevertheless I never really got emotionally involved with the general story. I don’t really know why, since I did like Reiko and Midori and even identified with Toru (and Midori) at some points. But I had this emotional distance until the end.
Murakami obviously knows what he’s talking about when he writes about mental illness. It feels like he has some experience with that. I don’t know if that’s true but if it isn’t, he has done some good research at least.
Summarising: Despite the book’s good qualities, something was missing. In the end it was rather meh.