My beat-up library copy … excuse me. Well-loved library copy.
This book is a monster at 925 pages, and every bit is fantastic. I haven’t loved a book this much in quite awhile. Haruki Murakami split 1Q84 into three different books, each a few months during the span of the story. You can buy box sets with the three divided out, but they really need to be read all at once—so you might as well get the giant book and feel that much more accomplished when reaching the end. (Spoilers below, you’ve been warned.)
Aomame is a woman who works at a health club as a personal trainer, but also moonlights as a kind of assassin for a wealthy client.
Tengo is a math teacher and aspiring novelist, who is pulled into a scheme by his editor friend.
The two knew each other as children in elementary school, where an encounter left them both wondering what happened to the other 20 years later.
Fuka-Eri ran away from a religious cult and wrote a story about her experience. Tengo rewrote the story at the request of his editor-friend, where it went on to win an award and become a best-seller.
Oh, and of course, it’s Murakami, so toss in a bunch of magical realism. Suddenly Aomame and Tengo find themselves in 1Q84, and need to make sense of their world, try and survive and try to find each other.
Chapters flip between the main characters, and something is always happening. For 925 pages. Themes crop up again and again among the characters, and random events occur, but nothing felt extremely random or out of place to me. If, however, you are not a fan of magical realism, this might be a difficult book to read.
The plot moves along, but there are also bigger things at work in the story. Religion, love, God, time … I’m writing this right after I finished the book, so I’m sure there is a lot more that will come to mind after it’s sat for awhile.
Murakami’s writing is incredibly matter-of-fact, almost like he’s reporting a story after interviewing those involved. He does, however, delve into descriptions, offering details on how each character looks, dresses and acts, as well as things happening around the characters wherever they are. The world he creates is very full and alive, and he does an excellent job of creating a movie with his descriptions.
While Tengo just lets life happen to him, Aomame takes control of her life. The two balance each other out, so it didn’t bother me that Tengo was a bit ho-hum about everything. Peppered in are other interesting characters. Even the minor ones are pretty complete. I don’t feel like anyone felt flat with the exception of one, but even that fits him exactly how it should.
I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you enjoy magical realism, Japanese literature or have liked Murakami’s other novels. Just relax, and let the novel take you where it will.
Oh—and there are Little People, and two moons in the sky. What’s not to love?