I enjoyed this story, balanced somewhere between science-fiction and fantasy. This particular version is great and the two narrators are perfect for their parts! The only issue I had is that there are two diagrams specifically referenced in the text of the book (one diagram and I can't remember what the other one was) and there's a halt in the audio as the narrators wave their arms around (or something) in a vain attempt to indicate what you're missing out on. Don't let that dissuade you from listening if you're interested as it's not crucial to the plots, but possibly worth knowing about ahead of time.
I rarely give up on a book -- some strange sense of obligation drives me to finish it, even if I'm not enjoying it. For this book, I made an exception. After five hours, I just couldn't justify throwing more good time after bad, so I deleted the book from my iPod.
I suspect it was mainly a genre problem. Not that I could tell you, exactly, what genre this book falls in, but whatever metaphysical problems he was setting up, I just couldn't begin to be interested in them. This book was just relentlessly tedious to me. I gave it two stars because I'm willing to consider the possibility that the book isn't badly written, it's just a bad fit for me. Let me suggest that if you listen to the audio clip and think, "I have no idea why anyone would care about what he's describing," trust your instincts and move on!
I bought this audiobook based on the positive reviews it received. Murakami is a skilled writer and his touching upon subjects like consciousness and neuroscience kept me interested, as I studied both in college. Unfortunately, he didn't do either justice and nearly everything else about this book also falls flat. I felt that the story was on the verge of getting really good at several points and it never happened. Everything was sloppily addressed in broad strokes. So many parts were simply or obviously filler that had absolutely nothing to do with the plot. It was annoying, for example, when Miramaki would introduce dialogue or musings on the musical or literary tastes of the characters. It was much more an opportunity for Miramaki to crow about his own knowledge and interests. It was dry filler material that was particularly glaring because there were so many important and relevant aspects of the book that should have been explored more in-depth, but never were. Hence, plateaus, but no peaks. There was a lot of potential here, but it was wasted. This is my first review and I'd normally not waste my time...but this novel was so disappointing that I feel obligated to warn others who might also get duped into believing positive reviews = good quality. Not so.
I only listen to 30 minutes a day in two 15 minute chunks. With my listening time so fragmented, this book seemed too complex for me to appreciate or understand.
The performances are OK: one is flat and the other overly bouncy. I guess that was meant for contrast? The story is awful - a total waste of time, with no reward for the reader at any point. 0 out of 10.
After reading Tony's critique of this book, I wished that I had read his review PRIOR to having bought this book.
Like Tony, I often continue to listen to a book that seems like a dud at first. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised to find a book that rescues itself upon further listening. Then again--sometimes I am not. This book would fall into the "NOT" category. I kept listening, hoping that at some point, I would begin to give the faintest bit of a damn about any of the characters. All the characters were uni-dimensional literary wastes--not to mention grating--In the extreme. Wish I could give this zero stars.
Two questions continued to pop into my head as I tried to sweat this one out:
1) "What the hell was this author SMOKING?!", and, 2) "Why should I care about any of these characters?"
Unlike Tony--who sounds like a fair and rational human--I could not dismiss my disappointment with this book. Tony allowed that it's possible that this is not really a BAD book, but just a "bad fit" for his tastes. I can't even give it that. This book is truly a waste of precious time. I could have been putting the 4 hours I wasted on this book to better use. I'm sure that 4 hours spent in a dental chair, getting a root canal would have been more useful, and certainly more pleasant.
Get out while you can, and just avoid buying this one in the first place.