Norwegian Wood

Before I picked up this book, I have read so many good reviews on Norwegian Wood. I wanted to read it since few years back but somehow my hand always drawn by Murakami’s other books. I finally set my mind to read it after the movie was released. Unfortunately, after reading the book, I don’t share the same opinion as other people who had read the book. There are a lot of people in goodreads and blogosphere that think that NW is a really great book and some even considered it as an amazing book. As for me, I wasn’t impressed by it at all.

Norwegian Wood can be considered as love story, and this is my second Murakami’s love story. I was often asked what kind of books I usually read, and I always answer anything but romance. Romance always bored me to death, I can watch romance but I could never read romance. For me, there is not enough imagination in romance.  I thought if the love story is written by my favorite author, I could love it…but after 2 books (the first was South of The Border West of The Sun) that mostly talk about love, I came to a conclusion that even Murakami cannot make me enjoy love story to the fullest…at least I managed to finish it 🙂

I love Murakami’s surreal world/story far better than this. Kafka on The Shore, Sputnik Sweetheart and Dance Dance Dance were 3 books that I love so much.  Although love also involved in those books, but the world they were living in was intertwine in a bizarre and interesting way.

Norwegian Wood is said to be not just love story…I agree with that notion, that’s why I can still finish the book. But, it left nothing special in me. When it ends, it ended without leaving a trace inside my heart, unlike Murakami’s other books.

There are too many sex scenes and sex talks that made me get a feeling that sex is everything. I don’t mind sex scenes in book when it is necessary, but NW used it a lot and at certain point, it annoyed me. You might think that I am weird or too strict or whatever…be as it is, I don’t mind. I think there are more to talk about than sex. At the last pages, when Reiko and Watanabe were doing it, I literally said “WTH, again?”

The story is about Toru Watanabe. He was remembering the time when he was still young, before he was 20. When he was still in school, he used to hang out with Kizuki and Naoko (Kizuki’s girlfriend). Their group separated after Kizuki killed himself. A year later, Watanabe met Naoko and they started going out together. On Naoko’s 20th birthday, they ended up sleeping together. To his surprised, Naoko disappeared the next day. He was left feeling so confused.

Watanabe finally found out that Naoko was in some mental institution. When he visited her, he met her roommate, Reiko. Reiko had been there for 7 years. Naoko’s health was getting worse after Watanabe’s visit. Meanwhile, despite the fact that Watanabe said he will wait for Naoko, he fell in love with his eccentric classmate, Midori.

Although I didn’t enjoy the story and think that both main characters are not interesting, but I really like the supporting characters. My favorite of all was Nasagawa. He had a snob way of looking at the world, always looked down on other people. He cheated on his girlfriend by sleeping with a lot of girls. He was the most annoying character in this book but he was also the most interesting one. He made the book more lively and enjoyable. I also liked reading about Reiko’s past, in truth I enjoyed reading her past life way more than Watanabe and Naoko’s life. Her story kept me glued and wandering what had happened to her. There was time when I wanted to skip the pages when Reiko said her story was to be continued. Reading about Midori was also interesting, she was so carefree and fun to read.

Book Details

Title: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Language: English (Original language: Nihongo, translated by Jay Rubin)
Pages: 296 pages
Publisher: Vintage International
Challenge: Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011

10 thoughts on “Norwegian Wood

  1. I understand why you rated it only 2 stars, although I liked it a little better than you did. His surreal books are the best, I have to agree. Hm, am re-reading NW a bit later this year (am going to try and read his books in order of publication). Romance is not always bad, is it? 😦 I mean, I tend to associate it with YA, or even worse, “urban” or “vampire” stuff, or chicklit. But sometimes the ache of loneliness can be described so beautifully, without any steamy sex scenes or a happily ever after built into the story. I hope one day you’ll discover a book that has the “good” kind of romance interwoven 😉

    1. It’s not bad…it’s just boring. So far, romance is good as an addition,you know like horror or mystery or fantasy books and then they insert a bit romance in it (such as the love between Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings).

      I hope there is a pure romance book out there that can change my mind 😉 . Some short stories from The Square Persimmon talks about love and romance, and I loved it because they were really deep.

  2. Although I enjoyed this It’s not my favourite Murakami, and as for love stories or partial Love stories, my favourite as I’ve mentioned before is in The Elephant Vanishes, the story being –
    On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning. I’ve got Jay Rubin’s book on the Man sat on my bookpile, so hopefully will be starting that soon, after Ishiguro’s Nocturnes.

    1. I am planning to read The Elephant Vanishes somewhere this year 🙂
      I haven’t read any by Jay Rubin except his book about Haruki Murakami. Let me know what you think about his book.

  3. Doesn’t sound too good. I am not a prude at all but too many sex scenes put me off, I often don’t see the sense in them, they seem gratuitous. I have a problem with romance but not a problem with love stories as I think they are not the same. For me a romance is all about the actraction and the moment until they get each other and then the book/movie is over. A love story however begins after they have come together and it could stand for any form of relationship. What is important could be said about any form of love. I could alos imagine a love story in which one perosn is dead or has gone, That wouldn’t make great romance material as it does live from those back and forth tensions between the characters…
    I’m also planning to read The Elephant Vanishes.

    1. I hope my review doesn’t put you off, a lot of people think this book is amazing…you could be one of those people 😉
      Ah…That’s a nice way to differentiate romance and love story. I think NW is more love story than romance. I like love story in a bigger scene not as the main idea, except if the word ‘love’ is applied on grandeur love (not just between man and woman).

      I think I’ll have my second Murakami of this year, 3 or 4 months from now. I try to read more new authors in the beginning of every year.

  4. My favorite Murakami book is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Other books I’ve read are After Dark, and South of the Border West of the Sun. Have yet to read Norwegian Wood but isn’t it the same book which made him famous?

    1. Yes…this one is the book that makes him famous…but somehow it’s not my kind of read. So far my fav are Kafka and Sputnik, I am yet to finish Wind-up Bird…probably one day

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