My first response to finishing the book was "Thank God that's over", my second was "how could Murakami have screwed it up so badly?". The second book ended dramatically and, maybe even artistically, with Aomame standing before the portal that took her to 1Q84 with a gun in her mouth and Tengo beside the comatose body of his abusive father awaiting anything. Well, Book 3 begins with Aomame taking the gun out of her mouth and going home and Tengo continuing his solitary vigil over his father.
Here's the biggest problem from then on - nothing happens! Aomame stays in her safe house, doing exercises and reading, all the while looking out of her window towards the playground where she had seen Tengo sit atop a slide (and for some reason didn't react to it) for most of the book. Tengo hangs around the nursing home for ages, returns home, then doesn't do anything either.
There is a new addition in the chapters, a minor character from the previous books, Ushikawa, is given his own storyline but even this does nothing to make the book interesting as all he does is go over the events of the first two books. Once the reader is reminded of every tiny event that happened previously via Ushikawa, the character is killed off! His entire storyline is so contrived and irrelevant it beggars belief.
The lack of anything happening wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the tantalising storylines Murakami had set up in the last two books. Why oh why didn't he write about any of the following: the Little People - who are they, what are they, why do they exist, what is their meaning; what's the significance of the second, smaller, green moon; what happens with the mysterious cult Sakigake - does it collapse without Leader, what happens to it, does Fuka-Eri destroy it; what is the meaning of air chrysalises and the maza/dohta; Tengo and Aomame's relationship - this is the driving force behind the two main character's actions throughout the 1000 page story but the reader knows next to nothing about why they are so obsessed with each other - why not develop this to explain why?
And what do we get instead? Pages and pages of banal thoughts, banal actions, and a literary kind of treading water. Murakami completely fails to live up to the storylines he's spent hundreds of pages establishing, choosing instead to not bother writing something interesting when something empty and dull will suffice. I will say that the NHK Collector was an interesting character, especially creepy, and added a much needed element of mystery/horror as a disembodied voice, never seen and only heard (is he really Tengo's father's ghost?). But this was a very small positive compared to the overwhelming sense of boredom perpetuated throughout the novel. There was potentially a great novel here but Murakami totally flubs it through inaction and stasis.
My main complaint of the first two books still stands in this third - the love between Tengo and Aomame is so unbelievable as they barely met once when they were 10 and now twenty years later they are still madly in love with each other even though they don't say their first words to each other until the final 20 pages of the book? 20 pages out of nearly 1000! I don't understand how either of them could find this perceived connection as such a driving force behind all of their actions, behind this entire novel (or series of novels). I suspend disbelief on most things in this book but not this romance, it's too far-fetched to believe, mostly because Murakami didn't put any effort into creating it.
This is the longest victory lap any novelist has indulged in, ever, I think. It's a book that didn't need to be written and spends most of its 364 pages underlining its own irrelevance. To anyone wondering whether or not to read this after the effort taken to read the first two books, I would say read the final 25 pages of Book 3 and you've basically got it - everything that precedes it isn't worth noting. It took me a month to read the first two books, just over a month to finish the third and it's half the length of the first two - save the time and effort needed to wade through this unedited, uninteresting novel and finish this "saga" with the end of book two.