This ended up being a really long review and while I have been trying to make them more concise, this book was over 1300 pages long and a whirlwind of amazing writing and characters, I couldn’t help myself. I also keep switching the format of my reviews, but oh well! When I get on a roll writing it is hard to stop myself
Author: Haruki Murakami
Date published: 2009
Page Count: 1318
My Rating: 1/2
The year is 1Q84. This is the real world, there is no doubt about that.
But in this world, there are two moons in the sky.
In this world, the fates of two people, Tengo and Aomame, are closely intertwined. They are each, in their own way, doing something very dangerous. And in this world, there seems no way to save them both.
Something extraordinary is starting.
This book took me a solid two weeks to finish and it was a rollercoaster of confusion, stunning writing and a complex world with many intersecting storylines. Haruki Murakami constructs such a detailed story following two people, Aomame and Tengo, as their lives come together as they are thrown into a story of little people, a mysterious religious cult, and a sense of fate that is bringing them together.
The writing lost none of its beauty after being translated from Murakami’s native Japanese. I don’t know what exactly it was about the way the story was constructed that made it a joy to read; the simple sentences, vivid descriptions of Aomame’s and Tengo’s experiences, or how when it seems like nothing major is happening, something still is happening to make us more invested into the world and the story.
This book is extremely long, especially as I bought the edition that had all three books in one which added up to be 1300 pages. For most of the first two books, it feels like there are no major plot developments or dramatic events. The plot moves very slowly as each chapter things build up on what we know about the characters and the world to create this rich setting in which everything takes place. We switch between the POV of our two main characters and begin to learn more about their lives. We start to slowly see how they are connected not only to each other, but to the mysterious ‘little people’ that are first revealed to us through Tengo’s rewriting of a young girls novel.
The science fiction aspect of this book is strange to say the least. We first learn about these little people that come out of a dead goats mouth to make an air chrysalis from Tengo as he rewrites Fuka-Eri’s novel into something more fitting of winning a major literary prize. There are these dohta and maza which are two aspects of a persons being that relate to the little people and the air chrysasis that they make. As he begins to learn more about Fuka-Eri and her disturbing upbringing in the religious compound called Sakigage, he begins to question whether what he wrote was fantasy or real as he deals with reconciling with his father and keeping his ghostwriting a secret.
Aomame however leads a much ‘simpler’ life as a fitness instructor, a young sexually active bachelorette, and secret murderer of abusive men under the guidance of a dowager. After climbing down a ladder off a major highway to avoid traffic and make an appointment, Aomame inadvertently is transported from her own version of 1984 to a different version, which she terms 1Q84 which is distinguishable due to the changes in police uniforms and the second moon present in the night sky. Aomame too learns about these little people and from reading the book that Tengo and Fuki-Eri writes and is thrown into this story with her own unique role.
Throughout the book we have no idea what any of this means. What is 1Q84 and how did Aomame get there? What are the little people? We still don’t get all of the answers at the end of the book, but I find I didn’t mind. I was so invested in reading about whether Aomame will get the life she wants, whether Tengo will get caught, whether they will find each other and realise they have a connection (due to supernatural forces at play). It was so interesting too see how all of these aspects; Aomame, Tengo and the little people intersect. Like I said, we don’t get all of the answers but we get enough by the end of the book to get closure.
I didn’t intend to make this review really long, but when the book is over a thousand pages long, it is pretty hard to summarise it all into a couple paragraphs. I loved this book and while it was long and confusing, it was a new experience in reading for me and came together to make such a unique and interesting storyline.
Let me know if you have read ‘1Q84’ or any of his other works in the comments!