If I haven't posted any reviews here in a while, I have an excuse; I've been caught up in Haruki Murakami's massive novel 1Q84, which at almost a thousand pages, is not something you can knock off in a day or two.
It's well worth the effort, though. It's in his signature lucid but surreal style, where you're not always sure that what you're seeing (through the character's eyes) is real. He has a way of describing the most ordinary, prosaic settings and making them seem otherworldly, places where you might expect to see ghosts.
The book revolves around two characters: Tengo, a writer who just wants a quiet life but finds himself trapped in an increasingly violent vortex of conspiracy; and Aomame, a sports trainer by day, avenging angel by night, who does what she has to with dispassionate calm until the day she's given a job that will change her life forever. The two of them had a chance connection in elementary school that neither of them has ever forgotten, and they have both spent the time since trying to find each other again -- at the same time, each not knowing if the other even remembered who they were.
Other characters slip in and out of the story. The aging Dowager, who got Aomame started on her career of righteous revenge. The misshapen, hulking Ushikawa, a gun-for-hire who will do anything he's told to do if given enough money. Fuka-Eri, a teenager with a preternatural imagination. The Dowager's bodyguard Tamaru, who is ruthless and efficient and has a soft spot for dogs. Aomame's policewoman friend Ayumi. The Leader, a desperately ill man in charge of a homicidal cult. All of them play a part -- and the whole time, the two moons of the 1Q84 world hang in the sky, a reminder that all is not what it seems.
To tell you more would be to spoil the ride. Murakami's ability to transport us to a side-slipped alternate universe, which he demonstrated over and over in such tours de force as Dance Dance Dance, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, and A Wild Sheep Chase, is in full flower here. Pick up a copy, fasten your seatbelt, and get ready for a trip you'll never forget.