1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Hiya. So, I disappeared for a month, not because I stopped reading (heavens, no), but because 925 pages takes some time, even for me. Although it did take a little longer than I anticipated. And then, well, I just didn’t really feel like writing a review, so I jumped right in and started/finished my next book (more on that later). But now it’s nighttime, and I’m clean, and it would irresponsible for my sleeping patterns to start another book now (even though I have a really good one sitting next to me). And I have some ice coffee, so, awesome. It’s actually ice mocha. Mostly chocolate. With ice. It’s delicious in winter.

1Q84 marks a special first for me: first book ever read entirely on an e-reader. Specifically, a classic Kindle, which my father bought me for my birthday. I have to say, I found the experience strangely enjoyable. Strangely because I didn’t expect the Kindle to offer me anything besides a lighter, cheaper way to carry books, but there were actually several features I found very useful. For one thing, the progress bar at the bottom which shows what percentage of the book you’ve read. Since this book is so long, that bar moved really, really slowly.

One thing I found myself doing quite a lot was highlighting. I’ve never highlighted my books before- besides the fact that most of my books come from the library, I’ve never been tempted to highlight with ink. But highlighting on the Kindle if just pressing a few buttons. On top of that, since my Dad and I share an account (which means we share all of our books), he can see anything I highlight. Mostly I just highlighted sentences that looked really good to me.

Okay, about the book. One day, Aomame is riding in a taxi on the way to an appointment when they get caught in pretty serious traffic. Janáček’s Sinfonietta played on the radio. The taxi driver informed Aomame that if she was really in a hurry, there was an emergency stairway down from the highway that would take her down into the city, so she pays the man, exits the taxi, and locates the stairwell. As soon as she steps over the gate, though, she feels something shift. She can’t say what, so she ignores it and climbs down the (somewhat treacherous) stairs to pavement below and makes her way to her appointment, on time, and all is well.

Meanwhile, math teacher and part time writer Tengo Kawana sits down with his friend Komatsu, an editor, talking about a young writer’s contest which is hosted by Komatsu’s company and Tengo helps judge. This year an interesting piece of fiction has been submitted and caught their attention; the story is too good to ignore, but the writing is poor, so Komatsu devises an elaborate plan whereby Tengo rewrites the story, with the permission of the young author, Fuka-Eri. The story is called Air Chrysalis. It is set in a strange world with Little People, a world with two moons.

The perspective jumps between Tengo and Aomame (a third character is factored in later on) as they progress through their storylines. Soon, they each become aware of a change in their world. It is revealed that they have a past connection, and now they have to find each other again fix whatever is going wrong.

Yes, for about seven hundred pages, it really is that vague.

I loved it. I thought it was excellently written, and for not one minute did I find it slow or dull. Now I have to say that I did come across a very negative review that raised some valid points: the pace is leisurely (I won’t say it’s ‘slow’ because that sounds like a bad thing), and Murakami has a slight tendency to repeat himself and drag out seemingly insignificant details. For some reason, this never bothered me.

There were a few things that annoyed me, but they’re spoilery so I don’t want to mention them here. But for my first Murakami, I was really impressed. I’ve heard a lot of good things and had been meaning to read something of his for a while, so I was pleased when my Dad got this one for us on the Kindle (he’s reading it now).

I’ll leave you with this:

Oh, it’s also a love story. Though I didn’t actually think of it that way for most of the time I was reading it, it really is.

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Two months later, I picked it up again. There’s something here that keeps grabbing me.

  2. If you remove everything else, at its heart, 1Q84 is a love story. But there’s quite a lot to the “everything else.” Haruki Murakami’s epic novel is the story of Aomame and Tengo, and the first two-thirds of the story are told in chapters changing between the viewpoints of the two. In the last third, a new character and point of view are added to the mix. Like all those works, examining the novel felt like gradually sinking into a well of dreams, and being wrapped in a mood of awareness and off hand beauty/absurdity.

    In such a long and complicated book, there is lots more to discuss. For instance, Murakami follows the notion that time does not flow in a straight line. In 1Q84, time twists around, reality shifts, and the past can sneak up unannounced behind you. These are just a very few of the exciting themes I found.

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