Once again Murakami has produced something that is truly magical. I would have to agree with the previous reviewer, if you have never read Murakami before, then this is probably not the best place to start, due to its length and surrealism, if you are not familiar with his work you may end up feeling rather perplexed.
It is 1984, and the place is Japan, but things are going to suddenly start altering. With two main characters, Aomame and Tengo, the tale is told in alternating chapters between the two. At first you have a mystery, in that what relation do these two characters actually bear to each other? Both characters seem to be living completely different lives, and have very little in common, but as you progress everything is slowly revealed, drawing you further in to the story. Aomame feels that she is in a different reality, or parallel universe, but is she? Could she just be more real than others? With Aomame as a gym instructor and assassin, and Tengo as a teacher and writer you are completely mesmerised by the two. Taking in such things as religious cults, and some history of what happened in Japan in the last century, this could be seen in some ways as an allergory of the Japanese people as a nation.
There is just so much to take in here, especially with the appearance of the 'Little People' that you are held in thrall. Tengo has taken part in a literary fraud with a publisher and the original writer of a story, and is hoping not to be revealed. Aomame is sent on a mission to kill 'The Leader', the head of a cult.
You could in actuality read this story twice, once reading the chapters to do with Aomame, and then the ones that are about Tengo, but it is much better to read them as a whole and enter Murakami's imagination; just relax and go with the flow, you won't be disappointed.
Once again, if you have never read any fiction by Murakami, I wouldn't suggest this as a first read. I usually tell people to read After The Quake
. There is a good reason for this, as this is a short story collection where all the stories centre on one subject, an earthquake. If you enjoy and 'get' those then you should enjoy anything else written by Murakami. I can't wait until next week when the third volume comes out. I should point out that this kindle edition does have an active table of contents.