Haruki Murakami. That name alone makes most people cringe because he’s one those novelists hipsters love. I’m no hipster so it goes without saying I don’t like him. I have read 1Q84 and South of the Border, West of the Sun. The former was terrible and the later was a resounding meh. Hell, I had an art class where we had to read a novel (from the list the professor gave,) bind our own book and draw the themes into our books. My book was South of the Border and, sure enough, 80% of what I drew were sex scenes. My professor told me there was so much more to SOTB and I told him, no, the book is about some guy who’s horny for some girl he met as a kid, she leaves and the guy screws any girl he gets his hands on. When he’s in his forties he reunites with the girl, screws her and he’s happy. That’s it.
Recently I came across Murakami’s new book, The Strange Library and since it’s insanely short, I decided to read. You know what? This is the best Murakami (read: the only good) book I’ve ever read.
The story is about this kid who wanders into a library and asks to take out a few books. The librarian takes him to the library’s basement where he puts the kid into a dungeon and tells him to memorize the books or die. Now the kid, along with a mysterious girl and a sheep man, must escape.
This is a rather brilliant setup. You see, libraries are quiet places for people to read (or surf the web.) The idea of a library having this scary monster and a dungeon is unexpected. There’s also that one human aspect of being held against your will be something that’s supposed to be innocent and then being helped by actual innocents. That right there hits many people close to home.
The writing is decent for the most part. It does convey what’s going on and character emotion well. However, it reads like it is a YA novel instead of an adult novel. There’s nothing wrong with YA, it’s just that it doesn’t belong in this books.
This book has some artwork in it that’s hit or miss. They are very colorful interpretations of certain events in the book. The ones with the shoe, the old man and the starry night are marvelous. The others just don’t make any sense. What’s with the moon/donut image?
In all, The Strange Library is a Murakami book for people who don’t like Murakami. It has a great plot and execution with some nice pictures despite some setbacks. I might try Murakami again, but don’t bet money on it.