Genre: Fiction, bildungsroman (fancy-shmancy way of saying “coming-of-age novel”)

Notes: Take your time.  This is not a book that should be read in one afternoon while lazing around on the couch. You’ll be confused by the fact that a Goat is talking with a Chicken and you’ll wonder how you ended up there and have to backtrack like five pages.  Slow down!

Review:  I’m guilty of devouring books like they’re disappearing tomorrow.  I’m a chain reader. I start my next book as soon as I flip the page of the previous one.  I had to slow down with this book, as I have to do with all Mitchell’s novels.  His writing tends to be denser and a little more complex than the novels I’ve read recently.

So, on a basic level, Number9Dream is about a boy named Eiji Miyake who leaves his podunk town and moves to Tokyo in search of the father who abandoned him before birth.  However, this novel moves between dreams and reality without much warning.  We get tastes of how Eiji wishes he behaved and wishes he handled situations versus the way things actually went down.  Eiji uses his daydreams as a means of escape from the disappointing, dead-end life he leads on a quest to find a father who has absolutely no interest in meeting him.  In a city of a like 10 million people stacked on top of each other.  Pretty hopeless.

Truly, I think this is my least favorite book by Mitchell.  Granted, I really like Mitchell and saying I like this novel least still puts it leagues ahead of some other novels I’ve read.  But I didn’t see how a lot of the plot events connected to each other.  For example, Eiji somehow gets caught up in the Tokyo underworld, sees a ton of people violently murdered one night, and almost has his organs sold on the black market.  How he gets caught up with the yakuza gang in the first place is unclear to me, and I didn’t feel like it lent anything to the story, other than showing Eiji’s gullibility and his determination to find his father even when he has to sign a blood oath with the yakuza for one night of service in return for his father’s file.  First of all, Eiji, you’re retarded.  Signing an oath with a violent gang can only end badly.  Second, stop trusting people who say they have information about your father.

Bottom Line: I’m not saying this book is a must read, but it’s good.  Despite my ambivalence about the book, I still got pulled into the story and had to know how Eiji’s quest ended.  Even when I groaned with impatience when Eiji did something stupid, I couldn’t help but love him.