Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

September 26, 2013

Dance-Dance-Dance Plot summary (from the publisher): In this propulsive novel by the author of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and The Elephant Vanishes, one of the most idiosyncratically brilliant writers at work in any language fuses science fiction, the hard-boiled thriller, and white-hot satire into a new element of the literary periodic table.

As he searches for a mysteriously vanished girlfriend, Haruki Murakami’s protagonist plunges into a wind tunnel of sexual violence and metaphysical dread in which he collides with call girls; plays chaperone to a lovely teenaged psychic; and receives cryptic instructions from a shabby but oracular Sheep Man. Dance Dance Dance is a tense, poignant, and often hilarious ride through the cultural Cuisinart that is contemporary Japan, a place where everything that is not up for sale is up for grabs.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • Yuki was a fantastic character. I usually don’t care for precocious teens, but Murakami managed to strike the perfect balance here between maturity and youthfulness. At times, Yuki did indeed sound way too wise for her years. But then she’d pop out with an “Ewww, that’s gross!” or something similar to remind readers that she was just 13.
  • The unnamed protagonist was rather likable as well. I guess this book was the fourth one featuring this unnamed writer, but it was the first one I read. Still, I think I got a good feel for the guy and didn’t feel as though I were missing out on something big by not having read any of the books before this one.
  • The murder mystery was sort of interesting at times. Obviously no one expects to get a tightly plotted mystery from Murakami, but some aspects of that storyline were a bit suspenseful.

Disliked:

  • The supernatural stuff just doesn’t do it for me. I know this is a standard element in pretty much all of Murakami’s novels, but it bores me to death.
  • Love and loss, love and loss…the same themes over and over again.
  • Gotanda was annoying as hell. I couldn’t stand the character or any of the scenes involving him. He was weird from the start and I figured he had something to do with the hooker’s death, so none of that surprised me.
  • The Sheep Man was absurd and unnecessary. Yeah, I know this “character” appears in other Murakami books as well, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

Rating:

This was the second Murakami novel that I’ve read and third book overall (the other being a collection of short stories). While I think Murakami’s prose is gorgeous (even in translation), I don’t think I’ll continue reading any more of his works. I just can’t put up with the shifting realities and supernatural beings that populate his novels and must therefore conclude that he’s not for me. I do give this book 3 stars out of 5, however.

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