This was a bit of a monster, in that it took me so long to get through it.And while Haruki Murakami is pretty much a total genius, this one was a little bit of a slog.
The plot is his usual brilliance – two young Japanese people are drawn into a parallel world where the “Little People” create many “Air Chrysalis” for some strange agenda. Chapters are told alternatively from each of the perspectives of Tengo, a young mathematician and aspiring writer who agrees to ghost write a disjointed but fascinating novel detailing the work of the “Little People” mentioned above, and Aomame, a personal trainer and assassin who went to school with Tengo and was drawn to him as a fellow outsider. While nothing more than a brief clasp of each other’s hand occurs in school, they remember each other as adults and secretly yearn to see the other again. But it is only in the parallel world, a different form of the 1984 the novel is set in (which Aomame dubs ‘IQ84’) to bring them together. Realising their need to find each other and discover a way out takes up much of the novel – although there are long periods whereby Murakami could have sped this process up which frustrated me a little. But this is simply not his style. he takes his time, exploring all recesses of his characters minds, and even demonstrating them doing the minute day-t0-day activities he seems to love so so much.
The mystery of what is going on will keep you going after a confusing start, and it is (as always) worth pursuing the narrative through to the end. Don’t expect any hard and fast answers – this isn’t Hollywood after all. Just enjoy the ride into a very strange but beautiful mind.