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on 18 March 2015
I really enjoyed the first half of this book, it was strange and grabbed my interest, but it deteriorated into meaningless weirdness and although I finished the book it was ultimately a disappointment. Still worth a go
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on 30 December 2010
If you have ever been (un)fortunate enough to find yourself at an art college's graduate show then you will perfectly understand my forthcoming analogy.

When those who do not possess either spiritual or mental fibre try to make Art - especially visual arts and more specefically abstract art, they invariably fail miserably. What they present may 'appear' to have form, structure and substance, and indeed, it may do so in the physical sense; but in the intellectual, spiritual, philosophical, ontological sense it is really a shell, a superficial expresion - an allusion to a world they have seen in other's Art, in galleries and in books. It is an echo of Art, but not Art itself, it is fake, a copy. When writers too, try to engage with subject matter that is clearly beyond them, they invariably fail. It is a truism that that which we are able to render (both visually and linguistically) is a direct reflection of our inner-self.

What Mura-kami has given us in this work is by no means a small thing for it is the real thing, the crown jewels and not costume jewellery. It is 1990s Coca-Cola with acid and bite and not your local supermarket cola. He has struck a firm sign-post on the literary path and has created something of true worth and value, a rock on the collective pile of literary consciousness. Like so many of his other great works (Dance, Norwegian, Hard-Boiled) he openly displays his creative and intellectual greatness, frugality and fragility, brutality and his capacity for creative story-telling that defines and re-defines boundaries.

'Wind-up' is a surreal and yet very realistic journey that shows maturity and growth. I can't think of may novels that are accomplished as this. One of Mura-kami's strengths in this particular work is the interplay of the narratives (a mode he used time-and-time-again) and also the time-frame of the piece. Mirroring real-life, he introduces characters and then lets them go. This alone is worthy of praise. Quite why film-makers and writers feel they have to 'keep' the same characters from beginning to end (unless they get killed off), is quite beyond my comprehension. It seems such an artificial construct and altogether too manufactured and contrived to give any air of authenticity to the narrative.

This work will not entertain nor interest all (which is no bad thing), but if you liked Mura-kami's 'Hard-boiled' or you are a fan of Salman Rushdie, then I wholeheartedly recommend this.
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on 16 January 2006
This stunning and beautifully written book was a present from a friend and it came without a note, nor explanation. I knew nothing about the book, the author or what to expect from it.
I had written a long and insightful review of the book, but somehow at the end it didn't seem fitting to post it. I don't know why and I decided to delete it and leave you with this. Everything was going so well, but as with many things in life, it is best not to think about why, but just to accept that is how it is and get on with it.
This book gets under you skin and in more ways than one. Through and throughout this book, Murakami makes each person reflect on themselves and their own "demons" within. Each of Murakami's characters are flawed, as are we all, and each goes through a kind of transformation during the course of the story.
Whether this book is there just to read, or was intended to pass a message I'm not sure, but for me I have taken away a defined simple thought that is my own. I hope you find the same too.
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on 27 June 1999
As with all his books Murakami allows you to identify with his ordinary hero, not only through the most extraordinary things that happen to him but also through his descriptive powers of the ennui of everyday life which somehow makes it fascinating to read about. Everyone likes to see how others live their lives. What adds to this general fascination for the Western reader is to be able to get into contemporary Japanese urban culture - every paragraph tells you something new about this ultra modern country and how it retains its links with tradition. Indeed it is "the past" which adds an extra dimension to this novel and makes it truly memorable. How many people outside the immediate protagonist nations have any notion of the 1939 campaign fought in Mongolia between Japan and the Soviet Union? How you may think could someone weave such a story into a modern day tale, running parallel, set in suburban Tokyo with some very "normal" characters and yet who experience some supernatural happenings? Murakami masters it all with ease in his own accessible yet challenging way. Read this book: and I recommend you to seek out any other by the same author too.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 December 2012
Beginning with the disappearance of the family cat, weaving back and forwards through time and through alternative worlds, this is a hypnotic and captivating novel. It is almost impossible to put down especially towards the end where Murakami brings many of the story's threads together. But this wouldn't be Murakami if it all made sense - some characters appear, seem substantial, but just don't reappear. Some story lines just fade out and some are never really completed. It is hard to describe, but the overall effect is magical and the 600 odd pages fly by.

Various characters appear along the way - all with their own tales to tell, many with unusual communication skills, all with their own traumas, and all with something to contribute to the narrator's quest which has quickly become much, much more than a search for the family cat

One of Murakami's best
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on 17 October 2014
This was my first taste of Murakami. After 5 pages I thought I was going to hate it, by the end I'd filled my shopping cart with a hefty pile of his other books. It's hard to describe what makes this novel so good, certainly a description of it's plot wouldn't make it sound particularly enticing, but the mood created is so immersive and wonderfully dream-like that I was just carried away with it all and felt quite upset when the book was over. Easy to read, but full of some very weighty themes, imagery and stories within stories (the war-time chapters I found particularly moving, and often horrifying), The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a stunning achievement and I think rightly qualifies as a work of art.
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on 19 May 2006
This book is definitely an improvement on Kafka on the Shore, a rather disappointing and flat story. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle deserves unending praise, both for its captivating storyline and creativity.

After Toru Okada's wife goes missing, he is guided unknowingly by the stories of many colourful and eccentric characters, not least the quirky clairvoyant sisters Creta and Malta Kano (named after the islands) with her red vinyl hat. Each tale told creates its own little world within the great tapestry that makes up this novel.

Increasingly surreal, the novel builds to an exciting climax in the dark and other-wordly psycological environment of Room 208, where the resolutions to secrets which plague throughout the book are finally hinted at!

I loved the atmosphere this book created, and delighted in the lingering mystery which kept it in my mind for so long after finishing it. Despite what other reviewers said, I found the conclusion satisfying, with just the right balance of explanation and ambiguity to keep my brain happy. If anything, the way things might work out was made just a little bit too clear, but that is for you to decide for yourself.

Summed up in one sentence? A very moving and thought-provoking book not to be missed!
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on 3 June 2005
The writer's more recent book (Kafka on the shore) got very bad reviews, but each critic compared it to The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, which they claimed was a fascinating book. Therefore I was intrigued enough to try this. The story revolves around Toru Okada, a Japanese man who has recently quit his job and spends his time taking care of his home while his wife works. For now it is an ideal lifestyle, but it won't last long. First the cat disappears; then his wife, who grows more and more distant each day, puts him in contact with a psychic. The wife runs away, and Toru's life becomes odder and stranger as he meets many new people.
It's well written and each new character is odd and fascinating, but the ending is just so pointless and understated, I didn't see the point of it all. There were a variety of different story threads, but they didn't really pull together properly, and the motivations of the "villain" were vague. The overall plot was ended, if somewhat unsatisfactorily. I really enjoyed the first two thirds of the book but it seemed to run out of steam and left too many unanswered questions of a fundamental nature. I don't need every loose end to be tied up but this was in my mind an unpolished conclusion.
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on 5 February 2012
There are lots of reviews already for this book but having just finished what I immediately consider to be one of the greatest novels I have ever read I feel compelled to add my own brief review, because this book is a genuine masterpiece. Murakami's prose (and by inference the translation by Jay Rubin) seems effortless and envelops the reader from the very start, and the story grips ever tighter as it unfolds. And it's not just a story - Murakami takes us to some deep dark places within the human psyche and confronts what he sees there. This is the sort of book that makes you feel you are on the brink of some profound revelation about the very nature of humanity. Ultimately it's a tale of good vs evil in men's (and women's) souls, with no easy solutions, but the conclusion is full and satisfying. I raced through the 600+ pages here in a few days and it really did transport me to a more complex and heightened state of mind, leaving me a bit disorientated and not quite in the real world for a few days afterwards. I desperately wanted to continue reading and finish it, but also never wanted it to end, and there's not many books I've ever been able to say that about. You should read it.
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on 23 December 2011
This is a must read for anybody who wants to get lost in a dream like fiction, fantasy like book. I absolutely love this book, one of my favourite reads (I have read all of his books)and I have just purchased this to re-read again as I mislaid my first copy!. This has got to be in my top ten books of all times. I would definitely recommend it, it is a must for the imagination, if you want to completely escape in to some amazing fiction, that play like films in your head, please read this book, I cannot recommend this book enough. Another favourite of mine, in a sort of similar vein would be The Famished Road by Ben Okri.
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