Yes, I know. I haven't finished the book. However it was sold as a trilogy in Japan, so I'm going to review it as a trilogy... in the US.
This is the second Murakami I've read and I'm finding some interesting similarities. Both are the same style of story; they ask the reader to question reality and push the rules on what is or is not possible. Both rely on sexual side stories that don't necessarily add to or take away from the story. And both have young female characters that an adult man lusts for but cannot have.
There are so many layers to Murakami's works that I find it difficult to review. The translation isn't great. There are syntax errors and incomplete sentences that break the flow of reading which takes away from the story. It's hard to fully engulf ones self in a story when it takes time to analyze what the author is trying to say.
The overall concept of the story is phenomenal. Other reviews were comparing it to Orwell's 1984, which I didn't get at first, but now I see that the characters themselves are comparing their lives to 1984. And the science fiction side is subtle enough that the reader is pressed for an opinion on if the character is crazy or if these things are really happening. Is it possible for there to actually be two moons in the sky tonight, or is Aomame going crazy?
There are a few plot holes - most notably a friendship between Aumame and Ayumi. I feel like their friendship was forged by the imagination of a 15 year old high school boy who thinks that girls actually have pillow fights in their underwear and practice kissing at slumber parties. Their entire bond is based on their similarly promiscuous sex lives. For Aomame, who doesn't have friends or trust people, to bond with another woman so quickly over something so personal is simply unbelievable.
The novel is structured in chapters that pass back and forth between the points of view of two main characters. The two characters had a class together in elementary school, but have since not seen or spoken to one another. Their stories are unique and completely separate except that both are being drawn to investigate a secluded religious group for accusations of mistreating young girls and to further understand the meaning of the "Little People". Do they actually exist in physical form or are they a figure of speech (think "big brother")?
Part one ended in such a way that no questions are answered. There is no end or conclusion to any of the mysteries presented so far. It was absolutely meant to be read along with part 2 (and presumably part 3) to the extent that I'm not sure why it was ever published as a trilogy.
I feel like this review is very broken and not at all conclusive, but I think it's a good indicator of how I feel about the book. There are things I like about it, things I don't like about it, and still many many questions to be answered. The plot has holes that will never be plugged, and questions that may or may not be answered, and the story seems to be moving in a new direction that I wasn't anticipating. So what is to come? We'll find out!