Brilliant book, absolutely brilliant. It was hard deciding whether to give it four or five stars (four and a half would have been perfect), but I ended up on five for several reasons.
First, it was a book I couldn't put down once I really got into it. That's always a good sign. I sat an entire night (from one until six in the morning) just reading, utterly forgetting where and when I was. It was gripping. Just one more chapter, just one more...
Second, it made me both laugh, cry, get angry, and scramble to find a pen because I absolutly had to mark this or that passage. Storm Trooper had me laughing out loud, Naoko had me crying.
Third, it was different. In the back, the Translator's Note said there were fans of Murakami who had been disappointed, because it was "just another love story". This is not just another love story! It's wonderful, and heartbreaking, and strange and a bit scary on top of it all. Murakami is an absolute master of details! He made Japan, which is a totally alien country and culture for me, never having been there etc, come alive, and feel tangible and familiar. And the love between all the characters in this novel is almost physical to the touch! I could hear and see both them and their surroundings clearly. The characters are all so personalised and defined it's wonderful. Like he plucked real people out of the world and put them in a book. Then sprinkled a little unrealness over the whole scene - because it has that too, this scene of outlandishness, or fantasticalness.
So yes. Five stars. Lovely, lovely book.