I am finding difficulty in choosing between 3 and 4 stars on number9dream, but I will go with 3 because although there were truly wonderful parts where the language was mind-blowing, the story fell flat. This book is more of a show-off look how fancy I can write and imagine versus let me make a plot.
The story of number9dream isn't very fulfilling. A young man goes to Tokyo in search of the father he has never seen. It's hard to explain the plot of the novel other than that sentence because we spend the first third of the book cartwheeling from one daydream of Eiji's to another. It is hard to tell what is happening. The first chapter of this book can be tough to get through, but it is rewarding because Mitchell loves words. The writing is amazing and thrilling, and I got sucked into many parts of this novel. Mitchell will pull out all of the filler and leave you with forward motion, leaping to the next scene before you figured out what had just happened.
Although the language jarred me at the beginning, I became used to the rhythm, yet by the middle of the book, it all came to a grinding halt. I did see it as a representation of maturity for Eiji, but the pace of the book suffered, and the Goatwriter and kaitan parts felt out of place.
There were many times where I felt that this was a rip-off of a Haruki Murakami novel. References to Norwegian Wood, kappas, young boy with daddy issues, witches that absorb dreams. It may be absurd to say, but it didn't feel very original. Although the subject and themes are very similar, Mitchell writes differently than Murakami, and this is the large saving grace in the novel. Murakami writes slow and lays it all out with simple language while Mitchell takes you on a visual rollercoaster where everything happens in two pages, where Murakami would take fifteen. The difference in language allowed me to put aside that number9dream acts like a Murakami doppelganger, although the middle of the book seemed to try way to hard to be Murakami. Murakami is one of my favorite authors, so I should be loving a book that is similar, but number9dream doesn't develop a solid story or characters. Mitchell hovers above the development and instead focuses on the flash and excitement. That's why when it slows down around chapter 4, the book suffers because Mitchell isn't sure what to do.
I really enjoyed Mitchell's writing in the beginning chapters, but the story doesn't truly deliver, and there aren't a lot of burning questions or chilling thoughts that stay with you.
The ending was unexpected and I don't understand why Mitchell choose that particular spot. I suppose I didn't care enough about the characters to express surprise and disbelief he didn't explain what happened to them all.