TRL REVIEWS: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

TITLE: 1Q84

AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami

PUBLISHED: 2009

PUBLISHER: Shinchosha

Quote: “That's what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.”

Overview: 1Q84 takes place in Tokyo and follows the parallel stories of Tengo and Aomame. Tengo teaches at a cram school and aspires to be a full-time writer. His editor, Komatsu, drags Tengo into a scheme to rewrite a manuscript entered into a literary contest by an odd seventeen-year-old girl. Tengo works with the girl, Fuka-Eri, and ghostwrites the original manuscript. The book becomes an instant success, but now Tengo and Fuka-Eri have attracted the attention of a religious cult that Fuka-Eri is tied to. Aomame, on the other hand, is a personal trainer and assassin who specializes in killing men who abuse women. In a taxi on the way to one of her “jobs,” the taxi driver says to Aomame, “things are not what they seem,” as Janáček’s Sinfonietta plays on the radio. Aomame is late and the taxi is stuck in traffic on the highway. She leaves the car and, per the taxi driver’s instructions, walks down an emergency shaft from the highway to the city. And so the stories begin…

Analysis: 1Q84 was…a lot, on all fronts. Of the 1,200 pages the book boasts, it felt as if 1,100 were a long tease. The parallel lives slowly, slowly, slowly make their way towards each other, compelling the reader just enough to push forward after each chapter. While the overall plot is enjoyable, much of the dialogue and writing felt repetitive and unnecessary. There are a lot of little things – sub plots, dialogue, events, characters – that are presented to the reader throughout 1Q84 that are left unresolved. This novel is the essence of the word “ambiguity.” What’s that saying about war? Long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror? That kind of sums up 1Q84: long periods of unnecessary prose punctuated by moments of excitement, depth and great storytelling. Nonetheless, I enjoyed a lot of it and am glad I read it. Would I recommend it to someone though? I’m not sure. There a lot of other amazing Murakami novels worth reading before this one.

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Conclusion: Check out Murakami's other novels first before reading this one.

Rating: 3