I think this is my favorite Murakami so far. That being said, like everything of his I have read, it left me kind of cold emotionally. I always find his stuff fun to read, and interesting to think about but they never move me very much. I'm ok with that. He will never be my favorite author for this reason but it's also not something that cripples my enjoyment.
Without having thought about it much, this strikes me as the most overtly ethical of his novels. The one that seems the most directly concerned with questions of good and evil in the world.
It seemed to me before, (and I have seen this criticism levelled here on gr as well) that all of his novels are the same in a way. After reading this one though, somehow the differences were brought home to me more. Obviously his style is extremely distinctive and that remains fairly constant. On the other hand, "Norwegian Wood" and "Sputnik Sweetheart" although both having a certain amount of the mysterious/mystical are much more realistic. "Norwegian Wood" comes closer to tragedy and was also more emotional. "Wild Sheep Chase" as I remember it was more sinister. "Kafka on the Shore" was more of Bildungsroman kind of tale of identity. "Hard-Boiled Wonderland" obviously had two sides that mirrored genre fiction.
Anyway, I think this is the one that most suits me and seems to hit the closest thing to a sweet spot with me and Murakami so far.
The other thing that seemed to come to the fore with this one was that there seemed to be a great deal of references to his other novels but not in any direct way, but more indirectly via topics. Whiskey and cats reminded me of "Kafka on the Shore". The two worlds deal reminded me of "Hard-Boiled Wonderland". The sheep briefly discussed and the wierd controlling of entities reminds me of "Wild Sheep Chase". Even the island names of the two women reminded me of "Sputnik Sweetheart". May's retreat is a bit like that in "Norwegian Wood". I guess I feel like the character in this one though. I can notice the connections but I don't feel like I have the power to bring them together yet. Perhaps that intuition of connection will pan out, perhaps it won't. Perhaps I will get bored before I decide. For now though I continue to be interested enough that the urge to work at that bringing together or making sense of these books remains.