“Kafka on the Shore” Review

Warning: If you have not read “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami, do not read this review if you want to avoid spoilers. If you don’t mind spoilers or already read the book, feel free to read this!

I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.

As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.”

In terms of the plotline, there appeared to be two main ones that went back and forth with each other. One was about Nakata, and the other was centered on Kafka. I liked how Nakata’s parts were written in third person while Kafka’s were in first person to make it easy to discern whose part of the story I was reading. Both plotlines also have connections to each other, with Nakata having murdered Kafka’s father. Both Nakata and Kafka don’t quite meet each other until quite late in the book, however. Between both plots in the book, I liked reading the chapters containin Kafka’s story the best mainly because Kafka was a more intriguing character to look at.

Speaking of Kafka, though he’s only fifteen years of age in the book, he’s very insightful for his character. This makes a lot of sense later on, given that he tries to figure out who his birth mother was as well as other things regarding his own past. I did find it a bit strange to have some Oedipus-like references involving him, though, but overall I find his character interesting to explore. In comparison, Nakata wasn’t quite as interesting to read, mainly because he did a lot of mulling around after just murdering someone, and he was lucky he didn’t end up in jail for what he did despite deliberately telling people that he up and murdered someone, even if it was to defend other cats from getting killed.

Another character I enjoyed reading was Oshima. Not only was he a great person for Kafka to be around that tried to understand his situation, but he was also capable of holding his own as well. One of the defining moments for him was probably in chapter 19, though I won’t elaborate much on why so I don’t spoil anything huge.

I also enjoyed the writing style of the book. There are multiple times where both Kafka and Nakata get to do a lot of individual thinking about the whole situation, and how they tend to go into philosophical tangents. These tangents really helped to shape what both characters thought about their situation throughout the whole book.

Overall, I’d rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars for the interesting character development and writing style of the book.

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