I recently implied that David Mitchell could do no wrong. Without a doubt, he is a tremendously talented author. Then I began reading number9dream and was immediately worried I'd have to eat my words. number9dream starts unlike any other Mitchell book; sure Mitchell has an eclectic style, but there's a certain feel to his books—the idea that regardless of subject or genre, all the stories are somehow tied together. number9dream didn't feel like a part of the Mitchell universe—it felt more like a poor attempt at Murakami minus the cats.
What's surprising is that my feeling didn't change as I read: number9dream bears more semblance to a Murakami-hack than to anything Mitchell could've written. It's easily my least favorite of Mitchell's works and likely will always remain such (it brings to mind the term 'sophomore slump'). It doesn't tie into Mitchell's other works the way I love—or at least in no way I saw—and that was disappointing. All that being said, it is still David Mitchell. The writing is superb. In fact, relying less on tricks, number9dream relies more on great writing. The sentences and scenes Mitchell turns out are gorgeous. Sure, all of it feels like a horrible acid trip, but it's a riveting and beautiful acid trip.
number9dream lacks the continuity, relevance, and drive that one usually finds in David Mitchell, but hey, it's David Mitchell, and that was enough for me.