Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Maurakami (no spoilers)

Book: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Marakami
Publication: 1987
Source: Bought for College
Read: February 2nd - 18th, 2014
Summary (From Goodreads):
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

 A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood brillantly recaptures a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love.

My Thoughts:

Norwegian Wood was a book I had to read for my English Literature class at University. My disclaimer on this review is that I'm often more harsh of books that I am forced to read rather than ones that I have picked up on my own. In saying that I did enjoy Norwegian Wood, but I also do realize that it is a novel I would not have picked up on my own. 

I think Norwegian Wood is relatable in a lot of ways. Toru is a college student in Japan and he is 19 in this novel. That right there compares with my own life. Toru's struggles seemed completely real in this novel and I think that is a part of why I was so interested in this novel. A girl in my English class brought up the point though that although Norwegian Wood was a romance novel it was not a typical one. Usually with romances you pine over the characters because you are looking for somebody like that in your own life. Toru's relationships were no fantasy. Both Midori and Naoko, the two female characters, had flaws and they had problems that I would never want to have to face.

Norwegian Wood in its whole is a very complex novel. We spent hours arguing over this novel in class and the potential means that the text could hold. I think that was a powerful reason to read it as a class book. I don't always think so deeply about the books I read because honestly I want to enjoy them, but this book is one that could be interpreted in many different ways. I can't say I always appreciated that fact because there were times when the book was just plain confusing, but at other moments it gave me time to reflect on the book's hidden themes and hidden messages. 

In whole this novel was worth reading. The ending was nowhere near what I expected and I had my own predictions for the ending of this novel that didn't turn out, but I think the author left his mark on my thoughts. I think the ending was almost a little two predictable though because I told my friends what I thought the ending was going to be and I was right on a couple of points, but the true ending I was totally off. I do recommend Norwegian Wood although I have admitted its flaws. I did appreciate my teacher for picking this novel because it was such an easy read. I did not have to look up every other word of the novel in the dictionary and I could follow along with the storyline. I do think there are people who will like this novel more than I did. I will most likely never read another novel by this author. 

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