Pages: 925 (Book One, Pages: 1-309)
Genre: Science Fiction?, Surrealism, Dystopia, Japanese Literature
Here is yet another Murakami review, however, this is something I have not recently read. I got 1Q84 two years ago for Christmas. At that time, I had already read three or more Murakami novels and wanted to read more. I heard about 1Q84 and wanted it pretty badly, since it was new at that time. Everyone was raving about it on the internet and someone was kind enough to bring out a sample of the first chapter. I devoured that sample and was super excited for this, it was so suspenseful, so mysterious and dreamy, it reminded me a lot of the first chapter of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World and Kafka on the Shore.
1Q84 became a best seller and when I finally got it, I read the first few chapters. I had mixed feelings about it. Before I even get into talking about the first book, I would like to have a little rant. I hate the fact that some people who were unfamiliar with Murakami, simply bought this book because it was a best seller, they bought it and it wasn’t their cup of tea. Just because something is on the best seller list, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for your own individual taste. I’m not defending only 1Q84, I’m just talking about best sellers in general.
1Q84 is quite slow, and if you are not familiar with Murakami, you will automatically be turned off, I’ve read about 3 or 4 of his novels at that time, so I was familiar with his style. The book was written in third person, at first I was confused, I looked through the book and realized that the whole entire novel was written in third person, no first person narrative at all, it was quite unusual for Murakami in my opinion.
This hefty novel was also a trilogy, in Japan it was published in three separate books. In most parts of Europe, it was published in two parts. In the U.S., it was published as a whole. A year later, the book was republished as a trilogy box set, which pissed me off somewhat because I wanted this so badly, and the box set was freaking beautiful. The one I have is beautiful too, a woman and a man, very nice looking models, front and back, expressionless, with a rather mysterious aura. Inside you will find a black sky with two moons.
The first few chapters of book one were quite delicious, Aomame’s perspective was pretty awesome because she was a super confident spy. Most of Murakami’s female characters were mentally broken and odd women who end up being the narrator’s romantic partners, they always seem to have this distant, underdeveloped feeling. However, Aomame’s character is alive. Tengo, the other main character, is pretty much like any other Murakami narrator, except he was a math teacher and seems to have a repeating dream of his dead mother, a memory that seems to make him extremely uncomfortable. So it seems like the mentally broken personality trait has been passed onto a male character this time.
What I do like about Book one was the details about these characters, the sad details of their childhoods, very bleak, confusing, unhappy childhoods. You know that they are fated to meet and fall in love, because they share something alike.
So Aomame is a tough assassin who kills off men who do wrong, she becomes friends with a female police officer and hangs out with a dowager that owns a home for battered women. Aomame realizes something off, her and Tengo live in year 1984, but everything seems odd and she calls it 1Q84. I read the first book quite a while ago, so I don’t really remember if that’s right. However, she notices something wrong and a traumatized girl, who is under the care of the dowager, seems to reveal something else odd. She mentions the Little People, the culprit of her mental scar. There’s a religious cult that Aomame seems to know about, since her parents were into a religious cult too and she was raised under it. The dowager believes she was violated by the cult leader, however the girl mentioned the Little People.
The Little People ties in with Tengo’s perspective as he is reading a manuscript, called Air Chrysalis that mentions them. He happens to be an editor and works with a man named Komatsu who is the one who encouraged him to edit the writer’s work, who is named Fukaeri who was also connected to the same religious cult, it is named Sakigaki and this cult holds their own community. Fukaeri is also dyslexic and a fairly odd girl, a lot of mystery surrounds her, especially after her work is published and she disappears.
Everything in Tengo and Aomame’s world is connected somehow, the Little People and the manuscript, Aomame, Fukaeri, and the Sakigaki, the odd changes in the world they live in, and the sense of reality folding into something weird.
I don’t want to talk too much about the plot because everything will just come out weird since I read it awhile ago. As you can see though, 1Q84 has a pretty crazy plot so far, it’s really interesting and it pulls you in. It’s lengthy and a tad bit slow, so a impatient reader will easily give up. The writing is pretty good, but bland compared to his other works, especially Tengo’s point of view, but since I am a stupid bookworm, I tend to like his slow, bookish, quiet flow. I also like Aomame’s point of view, but the perverted stuff is a little over the top. I enjoy 1Q84, but this is a meaty novel and I have been on Book 2 for awhile but I kind of set it aside and forgot about it. Today, I had decided to go back to this novel and hope to finish it, but the text is small, so it’s going to be a long journey. 1Q84 Book one is great but not the best. I look forward to reading more of it though, so one day a review of Book 2 will appear on this blog.
Rating: 3 and half out 5