Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Review: "1Q84"

"1Q84" by Haruki Murakami
First published in 2011
My rating: 3 out of 5

Japanese author Haruki Murakami's "1Q84" is one of the most bizzare books I've ever read. It features strange and wondrous things, like the pivotal apperance of not one but two moons hanging in the sky. It's also one of the most meticulously plotted and choreographed books I've ever read. Even the location of the page numbers has been thought out.

The novel takes place in Tokyo in 1984 -- or rather, an alternate Tokyo in "1Q84." The characters gradually realize they've been transported to the year 1Q84, where there are subtle changes from 1984 and where events often defy rational thinking. Why are they there? How did they get there? Who are the mysterious Little People they (and we) keep hearing about?

The novel has two protagonists -- Aomame, a 30-year-old female fitness instructor with a surprising private life, and Tengo, a 30-year old male math teacher and aspiring novelist. They're on separate paths in the 1Q84 world, but those paths are destined to come together in spite of -- or maybe because of -- the trials, heartbreak and illogical happenings they must first endure. Things begin to take a turn for the weird when Tengo's editor asks him to do a ghost re-write of a gripping, fantastical but awkwardly written novel submitted for a literary competition. As soon as the author, a beautiful, ethereal 17-year-old girl named Fuka-Eri, appears in Tengo's life, things begin to sprial out of control.

Murakami has a very distinct writing style. In a nice contrast to the intricacy of the plot, his sentences and word choice are clear, concise and simple. But the writing itself is often slow moving, repetitive and full of so much non-critical information that it becomes hard to read at times. It took about 250 pages for me to become invested enough in the story to read the novel through to the end no matter how much I didn't want to. I did quite a bit of skimming through the sometimes monotonous writing, but that can risky because the big reveals of critical plot points are occasionally buried in long paragraphs of character background information or soul-searching.

I didn't really enjoy "1Q84," but the plot was so unique, so outlandish that I had to keep reading (i.e. skimming) to the end. I nicknamed it "the brick" -- and at over 900 pages it probably weighs just as much or more than a brick! If you don't have endless free time on your hands, I'd recommend passing on "1Q84." Unfortunately, double the moons means double the length, but not necessarily double the pleasure.

(Image Source)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the write up on the book. Now I know what it's about and it would probably take me forever to read it.


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