So...pretty much everything about this book made me really uncomfortable.
The premise is this: a decade or so ago, Tsukuru Tazaki's four closest friends all decided that they didn't want to know him any more. Now, after moping about all this time, Tsukuru has met a girl, Sara, who helps him find out why they dumped him so that he can Move On.
OK, I'm just going to say it: the way this book treats women is crap. The way it treats gay people is skeevy at best. The way it treats asexual people is downright offensive. (Pathologising non-heteronormativity is not the way to go, authors.)
But the women thing is the main thing in the book, thematically speaking. The novel, uncomfortably, revolves around a woman who ruins Tsukuru's life by falsely accusing him of raping her. Which, in a world where something in excess of 80% of rape cases don't even get reported, already feels a bit egregious.
Women only ever appear here as objects: they're described in terms of breasts, skin colour, sex. Much of the not-very-interesting plot revolves around the erotic dreams the main character keeps having. Sara, the woman Tsukuru pours out his woes to, doesn't get any characterisation: she's just a receptacle with a handy penchant for travel planning. (Seriously? Can Tsukuru really not book his own damn flights?)
I'm not entirely sure what Marukami's point was here, and I think I probably need more time to figure it out - in some ways, this is a powerful story. But it also made me feel completely and utterly shit in a week that was already shit enough, so, you know, I'm probably not going to try too hard.