After Dark is easily recognizable as a Haruki Murakami novel — it's a book that, much like the wee hours of the night it depicts, has a logic and flow all its own. Indeed, because Murakami's prose is often described as "dreamlike" or "ethereal," there is no better setting for a Murakami novel. I picked this up with some trepidation — it's a very short novel (clocking in at only 191 pages) that Murakami fans seem to like the least of all his work (it only averages 3.56 stars on Goodreads). But I really enjoyed it!
The story is about Mari, a 19-year-old girl who we first see reading at a Denny's just before midnight. Through the course of the night, Mari reconnects with an acquaintance named Takahashi, helps a Chinese prostitute who has been beaten by her trick, and generally begins to understand and reveal some things about herself that she never had before. The small hours of the morning are a perfect time for introspection — and, together with Takasashi, Mari begins to work out many of the problems that had resulted in her not being able to sleep in the first place.
One of those is her sister Eri — who has been sleeping for more than two months. She's not in a coma, she's just sleeping. Throughout the novel, we look in on Eri — literally. Murakami tells us that we're like a ghost floating above her bed, observing her. Mari regrets that she and her sister Eri aren't as close as they used to be and wonders how to save her from her sleep. Will she succeed?
So, yes, by normal fiction standards, this is a weird novel. No, not everything makes sense. And so it's hard to explain exactly why it resonated with me. But it did. And it will for you too, if you're the kind of person who has ever laid in bed awake at night and had a ton of ideas that seemed great at the time, but utterly ludicrous under the glare of daylight. Yes, night has its own logic, and this novel drives that point home beautifully!