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After Dark is a short novel by the Japanese writer, Murakami, where not everything is as it seems. As the night grows longer, it grows stranger.

Set in a Metropolitan Tokyo, the book follows the journey of 19-year-old Mari Asai over the course of one night.

It’s so hard to describe what exactly the book is about, but the whole experience- the book itself is surreal and it’s quickly become one of my favourite novels.

It’s been awhile since my first read of After Dark, but even months later I still find myself thinking about it. The book is haunting in the best way possible.

I think this quote from the book itself best describes the experience:

“She reads with great concentration. Her eyes rarely move from the pages of the book- a thick hardback. A bookstore wrapper hides the title from us. Judging from her intent expression, the book might contain challenging subject matter. Far from skimming, she seems to be biting off and chewing it one line at a time.”

You’ll find yourself captivated, devouring the book word by word. Even though After Dark is a short novel, you’ll want to take your time. It’s meant to be savoured. Appreciated.

Murakami has a gift at making the most seemingly mundane of tasks, interesting. There’s a supernatural element in After Dark, that really gives off some Twin Peaks-y vibes.

In the scene I posted above, it’s described that the main character is much more interested in reading her books than her surroundings. She finds it more stimulating than the people around her, which is true for After Dark too.

I think it also does a great job at introducing and capturing the main theme of After Dark.

We can see the main character focusing on a book, but the title is hidden to us. Throughout the whole novel, you’ll be observing events from the outside, but we never truly know what’s happening on the inside. That’s true for life too.

No matter how much you look, you can never perceive something or someone else entirely. We can never completely understand someone’s thoughts or emotions.

As you read through the book, the theme and idea becomes increasingly more noticeable. The more you read, the less you know.

After Dark is an incredible book and I think there’s something for nearly everyone in the novel. It’s a must read, especially if you want something thought-provoking.