Coin Locker Babies - Ryū Murakami, Stephen Snyder I already knew that Ryu Murakami likes to delve into areas that most readers would find uncomfortable, but Coin Locker Babies leaps head first into a socio-psychological pool of toxics that will probably send most readers running for the relative safety of Fifty Shades of Gray. Coin Locker Babies is one of those books like American Psycho and We Need to Talk About Kevin that alternately repulses and amaze. I found it to be a surreal mixture of horror, social commentary and dark comedy that never let up and kept me dubiously entertained until the very bizarre end.

The plot involves two boys in an orphanage that were abandoned as infants and found in bus station coin lockers. I've been told that this was actually a real problem in Japan in the 80s. They are adopted together and become like brothers with a common goal of finding their mothers and killing them. Eventually them both end up in Tokyo with one becoming a cross-gendered rock star and the other taking up with a model with a crocodile obsession. The novel takes many detours often straying into back stories about the minor characters with exquisite detail. Much of Murakami's description of fictional parts of Tokyo, like an area called Toxitown, borders on the fantastical yet the plot remain depressingly mired in reality. I became very attached to the coin locker babies, Kiku and Tashi, who are both forbidding and likable. Many reviewers complained that the author sidetracked into rambles often yet I found his descriptive detours always entertaining and always adding something to the story.

Of Murakami's novels, I see this as being his current masterpiece. While In The Miso Soup may be the more readable and possibly even more shocking, Coin Locker Babies is his most involving novel combining the dark comedy of Miso Soup with the stream of consciousness of Almost Transparent Blue. Is Coin Locker Babies the one to start with? Probably not. But if you find yourself liking his other novels of insanity and horror, you should love this one.