I REALLY liked the start and middle of this book and had the ending been better, I would have given it 5 stars. Now I'm hovering somewhere around 4.25. I liked how the characters were BOTH deeply flawed, but I expected the ending to be a bit more of what I've come to expect from Murakami, which is to say, graphically violent. There, I said it. And maybe, for some people, or other cultures, piercings ARE terribly horrifying, but it isn't on the level of pulling teeth, or the cold snap of the Achilles' tendon being cut, which was what I thought would be the ultimate violent act. LOL But I'm not necessarily a fan of the gory scenes. It's just that after reading ITMS, and being horrified and sickened but riveted, I guess I expect all his work to be on that level and this just wasn't. Didn't care for the choppy back and forth narration of the two characters, the book didn't flow as well as I would have liked. I also didn't love that the story cut off without the male character knowing that he hadn't been "found out". If Murakami was going for irony, he almost nailed it. But I would have liked to see a little more resolution, or just off the deep end mindless psychological torment. Or even something to do with his mother. Overall, a good story with an interesting, but overstated and overrepeated theme that's important to face in a world with so much violence and filth.
And minus .5 stars for the over-repetition of Chiaki's father's disgusting comments. We get it okay? We're smart and we understand the devastating effects of child molestation. Maybe ITMS IS his best work, but I'm hoping to be equally impressed with something else from him so I'll keep reading. :)