Decidedly different from Murakami's past works in that this was grounded more in reality and lacked the magical realism he was known for. However, Murakami replaced that with a stronger emotional core throughout the novel.
This was essentially a story about self, love and happiness. A dark story - possibly one of his darkest - that only had occasional glimmer of hope and light. But those glimmer are enough to sustain optimism...or are they? That oscillating hope illustrates Murakami's skill as a storyteller (not so much a wordsmith per se since this is a translated work).
This is Murakami's most emotionally resonant work since Norwegian Wood and also perhaps one of the most easily accessible to new readers.