5 / 5 Stars
Surreal, loosely connected dual plot-lines - I LOVED it.
I've really got into Murakami in the last couple of years (thanks, Nick!), and this book was a real standout. It's perhaps even weirder than some of his others, but all the more satisfying for it.
Our main character (who is never named) is involved in some strange data-related stuff, but beyond that, we're never really told more. He meets an old man (and his 'chubby' granddaughter) then receives a unicorn skull, which lands him in all sorts of problems.
Meanwhile, there's another plot-thread going on, about a 'dream-reader' who ends up in a town full of what sound like unicorns. He befriends a librarian then starts plotting an escape with his severed shadow.
All sound a bit strange? That's because it really is. However, this isn't a book that's odd for the sake of it. In fact, much like his other books, the weirdness makes quite a lot of sense, which is what separates Murakami from other writers. Throughout the book I was constantly looking for links between the two threads, and eventually, I was left to draw my own conclusions, which I personally quite like.
I loved the anonymity of it all too. Hardly any of the characters have names, instead, they feel rather universal. Sure, this is set in Japan, yet it feels like it could be anywhere, at any time. It's dream-like and evasive, but never pompous or pretentious.
A totally enjoyable read for me - 5 big fat stars.