Author: Haruki Murakami
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Summary: This book was written in the same beautiful, dreamy style I loved in 1Q84, but the ending felt a bit less climactic and a bit less resolved.
In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki was part of an inseparable group of friends. Coincidentally, the other four students all had colors in their name and Tsukuru didn’t, a fact that he found significant because he also believed himself to be the most average of the group. About a year after Tsukuru moved away, his four friends cut off all contact with him and refused to explain why. When, many years later, Tsukuru meets a woman he cares for deeply, he realizes that he needs to understand what happened with his friends before he can move on and believe he might be loved by someone else.
Some other readers have mentioned disliking that Murakami so often writes about men having midlife crises. I’ve only read this book and 1Q84 so I might change my mind later, but right now I feel like I’d be willing to read about anything as long as it was written in Murakami’s signature style. Like 1Q84, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki often felt very surreal. There is an almost dreamlike quality to the book which sometimes makes it difficult to distinguish dreams from memories and characters’ speculations from what really happened. Although Murakami sometimes includes dream scenes or stories which don’t obviously advance the plot, I love these digressions. The sharing of something as intimate as dreams makes me feel as though I know the main character. And both the dreams and the stories set the tone for the book. I did miss the magical realism of 1Q84, but the dreaminess of the book meant I didn’t miss it too much.
One thing I liked better about this book than 1Q84 was the more modern feel. I liked that technology played a small role in the story of his reconnection with his friends and I liked the hints that one of the characters might be gay. One thing I liked less than 1Q84 was the ending. I know some people enjoy books which leave a bit to the readers imagination, but I like my books tied up neat. In this book, I felt like we were building to one meeting and were than left hanging right before it occurred. This is purely personal preference, but I would have liked this book a lot more with one final, climactic chapter. The end just kind of fizzled for me.
Do you like books which leave something to your imagination? Or do you prefer that the author wrap everything up for you?
It really irks me when that happens with the ending of a book. You spend all that time reading, and when the ending is a let down it’s so disappointing!
It’s true! I was enjoying this all the way through and was pretty sad when it left me hanging.
Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf
hahaha I had an angry moment when I realized I was going to be left hanging, but after I settled down, I was okay with it and it made sense to me. Even though I still WANT the neat ending. 😉
Sometimes I feel the same way, where I’m initially annoyed about an ending but eventually decide I’m alright with it. In this case though, I felt like the whole point of Tsukuru’s quest was that one relationship, so I really would have liked to know how it ended up.
I like things wrapped up or at least leading in an obvious direction. Of the two books, which would you recommend to a first time Murakami reader?
I think I’d recommend this one. Even though I didn’t love the ending of this one as much, it has a very similar feel to 1Q84. I also feel like other bloggers have responded more positively to this than to 1Q84 and it’s a much shorter read so you could probably figure out if Murakami is for you without a huge time investment.
Emma @ Words And Peace
just finished it. loved it a lot, and I actually thought that the ending fit perfectly well with Tsukuru’s personality. The pilgrimage is still on…
I’m glad you enjoyed it, even the ending, and I’ll be excited to see your review 🙂
If it’s done well, both! And wow, I’m a huge fan of Murakami! Totally looking forward to reading this one. 😀
I think that’s a great answer. In fact, I just read another book with an ambiguous ending and I realized what was bothering me wasn’t the ambiguity but the fact that the ending wasn’t emotional enough and just sort of trailed off. I think an ambiguous ending could be done in such a way that I would enjoy it more. I hope you end up liking this one as much as the other Murakami you’ve read 🙂
I can’t wait to read it, even with the other Murakami books I have on my shelves, so I’m sure it’ll be a while.
I’d like to read more by Murakami too! Even though I didn’t love the ending of this one, I enjoyed his writing a lot.
Lianne @ caffeinatedlife.net
Great review! I’m really curious to check out this title as the premise really piqued my curiosity. It might be a while before I pick it up as I still have 1Q84 sitting on my to-read pile, lol, but I’m hearing so many good things about this book too 🙂
Thanks Liane! I loved 1Q84 so hopefully you will too 🙂
tanya (52 books or bust)
This is the Murakami book that makes me think it is finally time for me to give him a try. I’d heard that he did midlife crises as well. The fact that this one is set around high school agers appeals to me. And sooner or later I should read some Murakami.
The focus wasn’t on their lives as teenagers, but it’s definitely an interesting and different part of this book compared to some of Murakami’s other books. I hope you enjoy it if you pick it up 🙂
Melinda @ The Book Musings
I also don’t like endings that aren’t wrapped out nicely. Or atleast give me a vague idea of what might have happened. I am yet to read Murakami and this one might be my first
This book was generally going in the right direction, but there was one big, unresolved question which bothered me in this case. It wasn’t a big deal though and I’d still recommend this as an introduction to Murakami.
At some point I would like to try Murakami.
I would recommend it. He has a unique writing style which isn’t like anything else I’ve ever read.