It was just as fantastically written and brilliantly creative, with complex, believable characters & dialogue, but the format is quite different. The book is divided into several different sections that are told from the perspective of a particular person & in a particular interesting situation. At first they seem unrelated, but as the book goes on suddenly you start to spot connections (sometimes explicit, sometimes just inferred or hinted at) between the characters and their situations and stories. I naively assumed that eventually it would all come together in some climactic "big reveal" where all the connections are finally spelled out and the actual storyline, the truth about what is Going On, is all explained.
But that's not what happened. There is an ending, but most things aren't fully spelled out. T he reader is kind of left to make sense of all the hints and inferences and put the pieces together as best as she can. In a sense, it was as if Mitchell wrote an entire book, including all the major plot points and main narrative and fleshed it out with fantastic characters and histories and inner monologues and philosophy and sub-plots, and then went back and took the main plot out, leaving you to interpret the negative space outlined by what's left and see whatever you see. A vase or two faces? Old woman or young woman? It's all in how you look at it.
Oh, David Mitchell, you are brilliant. BRILLIANT! Not to mention a hell of a word-wrangler.