At moments this reads like the sort of erotic fiction that populates certain parts of the internet. But there is a method in the madness and the use of sex, however casual, is all part of the jigsaw.
At the heart of the puzzle seems to be the challenge of picking up the pieces after a loved one has committed suicide. In fact you start to suspect this is the big question at the heart of this book about not only why someone dies but what it says about the world.
After he visits Naoko in the sanatorium Toru hears from her how she felt when her boyfriend and his best friend Kizuki died. But she also reveals that her sister had hanged herself and that she had found her body.
The moments they are together are intense and move at a different pace but back in Tokyo Toru has struck up a friendship with an odd girl in his university, Midori. She is completely different from Naoko in that she has a different attitude to death having lost her mother and survived but in some respects is the same struggling to adapt to “normal” life.
There is one moment when Toru is accused of wanting to sound like he is speaking like a character in Catcher in the Rye and there are other similarities with the university setting and the sense of not fitting into the mainstream.