A dream world that seems real, or a reality that feels like a dream. It's confusing, but it's still an amazingly entertaining story.
Story: First of all, if you've seen the movie there's no reason to read the book. They are identical. (I was hoping for an epilogue or something, but nope...)
So, I really love this story. Because it's so interesting how they capture the feeling in the dream world. It's very childlike and gives a nostalgic feeling. And at the same time it's a fairly serious story overall. The pace of the story telling is always keeping me focused and I simply can't find anything
to really complain about. Also, without spoiling, I was pleasantly surprised at the plot twist.
Art: No art. Period. The cover is from the movie, there are no other illustrations for the novel. (there is a preview for the manga, but again, nothing specifically drawn for the novel)
Characters: I found the characters to be likable. The high school girl is cute and childish, while being stubborn and brave. The university student is more mature and realistic, but also a pushover. And the bad guy is a typical bad-guy from a kids movie, though not exaggerated as much as the Ghibli characters.
Overall, this book is good. But there is too little to make it worth reading if you've seen the movie. So I do find it a bit disappointing. No illustrations, no afterword. However, for a fantasy story it's absolutely spectacular. The harmony of dream and reality, happiness and sadness, it's well balanced. The whole point of the entire story is simple, yet believable enough. And while the climax is pretty darn confusing (for me), it's still a scene where you can't help but to clap your hands and smile.
The dream world is also the real world, so everything that happens will affect both worlds. Confusing? Yes. But it is, to quote Merlin. "Fu*king Spectacular".