Review – 1Q84 March 4, 2012Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Foreign, Literature.
Tags: "book review", "book reviews", 1Q84, books, foreign, haruki murakami, japan, kindle, reading
by Haruki Murakami
The year is 1984, but not for long. Aomame, on her way to meet a client–the gravid implications of which only come clear later–sits in a taxi, stuck in traffic. On a lark, she takes the driver’s advice, bolts from the cab, walks onto the elevated Tokyo expressway, descends an emergency ladder to the street below, and enters a strange new world.
In parallel, a math teacher and aspiring novelist named Tengo gets an interesting offer. His editor has come upon an entry for a young writer’s literary prize, a story that, despite its obvious stylistic drawbacks, strikes a deeply moving chord with those who’ve read it. Its author is a mysterious 17-year-old, and the editor proposes that Tengo quietly rewrite the story for the final round of the competition.
So begins Haruki Murakami’s magnus opus, an epic of staggering proportions. As the tale progresses, it folds in a deliciously intriguing cast of characters: a physically repulsive private investigator, a wealthy dowager with a morally ambiguous mission, her impeccably resourceful bodyguard, the leader of a somewhat obscure and possibly violent religious organization, a band of otherworldly “Little People,” a door-to-door fee collector seemingly immune to the limits of space and time, and the beautiful Fuka-Eri: dyslexic, unfathomable, and scarred.
Aomame names her new world “1Q84” in honor of its mystery: “Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.
This was truly a monumental book at over 990 pages and it took me awhile to digest it. Murakami did a magnificent job with this book. He gives so much detail you really get a feel for each character. Although they’re swept away by the plot and the events that surround it, the focus is mainly on the characters.
The book is divided into chapters focusing on the divergent perspectives of Tengo and Aomame. This is, in no way, disharmonious. In fact, the rhythm of the book is quite lyrical. There’s a gentle cadence to the book that lulls you and invites you to continue reading.
As the book progresses you become more and more anxious for Tengo and Aomame to meet and cross paths. This also makes you even more anxious for the pages to turn. At the same time, I found myself savoring each word and letting the book take it’s time with me. I think I took the most time with this book then with any book I’ve ever read.
With the exception of Aomame, Murakamai manages to convey feeling without having his characters display overt signs of emotion. In this way he manages to display the perfect Japanese economy of demeanor without sacrificing any insight into the characters thought, feelings, and motivations. I thought this was particularly masterful of him as many authors are unable to do this.
Even though I was a teenager at the time, it was hard for me to grasp the technology gap between 1984 and the present. Computers weren’t so prevalent. Records weren’t all digitilized. You couldn’t just hack into the mainframe to get information and I’ve taken that kind of thing for granted.
The truly defined antagonist wasn’t introduced wasn’t introduced until the third “book”. Like an opera slowly building to a crescendo, that’s when the pace of the story really quickened. He was a sympathetic character that made me feel as much pity for him as loathing. Part of me didn’t want him to fail for his sake, but most of me didn’t want him to succeed for the sake of Tengo and Aomame. It is this conflict of emotion that makes a perfect villain in my opinion.
This book has love. It has mystery. It has the light spinkling of surrealism/fantasy that I experienced in After Dark. It has a dystopic society. It’s about good versus evil and all the gray shades in between. It’s about so much more.
When I was done with this book, even though this was well over 900 pages, I still wanted to read on. I wanted to remain in Tengo and Aomame’s world. That’s the mark of a good book!