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review 2016-09-11 02:56
1Q84 Review
1Q84 - Jay Rubin,Philip Gabriel,Haruki Murakami

Well, shit, it's over. Took me three months to read this one, and after that last page, I want to start all over again. I got to know Aomame and Tengo in every way possible, and I will miss them like old friends.

1Q84 is the third longest book I've read, as far as page count is concerned. It is also one of the only books over a thousand pages that I've read which was not written by Stephen King. I plan on fixing that over the next year by reading Gone with the Wind and Alan Moore's newest, Jerusalem, and any other 1,000-page motherfuckers I can find. Not too interested in fantasy novels, but I might throw The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss, in there too. We'll see how the mood strikes me.

What should you know about 1Q84? Well, it's a slow burn. It's definitely not a page-turner. It's literary fiction, so don't expect action and fight scenes and too much in the way of straight-line plot progression. It's magical realism, so expect to find some weird shit going down that people are overall okay with. Two moons in the sky? Why the fuck not. Exploding dogs? Okay then. Whatever you say.

Will you like it? See, that's the question I cannot answer with any certainty. If most of you in my friends list asked me if you should read this book, I'd likely say no. It's long and can be boring if you do not become invested in the characters like I did. I say that because you will learn every little detail about Aomame and Tengo, and you might not always be interested in their pasts.

I, however, loved every minute of this book. After two duds from Murakami (The Elephant Vanishes and Wind/Pinball... I guess that's technically three duds...), 1Q84 was a welcome return to the style I fell in love with after reading After Dark and Norwegian Wood. However, you should definitely read a shorter Murakami book before reading this one. I can't imagine anyone starting here. It would be like skipping the jungle gyms on the school playground and rushing straight for Mt. Everest.

This epic novel is broken up into three books. I believe that the original Japanese text was released in three completely different volumes. I never saw a clear ending point after book one, two, and three, so had I read these separately, I don't think I would have liked them as much. I did find it fascinating that I could tell the difference between the first two books and the final book. Something felt... off, is the best way I can explain it. Then I read the copyright page at the back and I find that the first two books were translated by Jay Rubin, whereas the third book was translated by Philip Gabriel. To me, there is an obvious difference between these two translators, but, if asked, I could not put a finger on what made the experience different. Odd.

Murakami nails the opening and closing of the novel. At the beginning, you can feel the shift from 1984 into what Aomame comes to call 1Q84. The last time I felt so certain that I was in a different place was while watchingDisney's Alice and Wonderland as a child. The cool part is that there isn't much difference between 1984 and 1Q84, only this feeling that 1984 is the real world, and in 1Q84, anything goes.

In summation: This review will likely grow as I digest more of this stunning novel, but for now, this is what you're getting. Air chrysalises and Little People and Sakigake and Buzzcut and Ponytail and Ushikawa and Aomame and Tengo are all part of my life now. I will never forget any part of 1Q84and I will definitely reread it on occasion. One of the best novels I've had the pleasure to experience.

Final Judgment: Magic.

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text 2015-08-14 05:44
Reading progress update: I've read 69 out of 451 pages.
1Q84: första boken - april-juni - Vibeke Emond,Haruki Murakami
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review 2015-06-09 00:44
1Q84 - Jay Rubin,Philip Gabriel,Haruki Murakami

My brain is a big thing of mush right now. 1Q84 is a long book, it’s really three books, but this edition (I think all American editions) combine them into one book. This is the first Haruki Murakami book I have read, which everyone seems to oppose saying this isn’t a good introduction to his work and some go as far as to say don’t read it unless you’re really a fan of his, but I’m grown. Don’t tell me how to read. Besides I love George Orwell’s 1984 so it only made sense for me to start here with Haruki Murakami.

I am going to attempt to summarize this mammoth now. The year is 1984, Aomame is on her way to an assignment and is stuck in traffic on the expressway, she leaves her cab and goes down an emergency staircase, she emerges into 1Q84. She is a gym instructor, but also works for the Dowager killing abusive men, without leaving a mark and making it look natural. Our other character is Tengo, he teaches math and writes fiction. Him and Aomame knew each other in school and were in the same class for 2 years, they weren’t friends or even talked but, when they were both 10 Tengo defends Aomame and later she grabs his hand. This even both stuck with them for the next 20 years. Tengo gets involved ghost re-writing a 17 year old girl’s, Fuka-Eri, story about the religious compound (Sakigake) she ran away from. He thinks this is just a story, but it is very real. The Little People control everything and the leader (Fuka-Eri’s father) can hear them. Fuka-Eri’s guardian is using her book as a way to create publicity for the girl and then have her go in hiding to force police to look into Sakigake’s compound to find out about what happened to her parents. Sakigake is upset at the book selling and wants to put a stop to it going after Tengo. Meanwhile, Aomame is assigned to kill the leader of Sakigake because he is raping girls who haven’t had their period and using religion as an excuse to do so. The leader wants her to kill him, he explains why he had sex with those girls and the role of The Little People. He knows about Aomame’s longing for Tengo and tells her Tengo feels the same way, but that they can’t be together, she either has to kill the leader and Tengo lives, but she is hunted by Sakigake, or she lets the leader live and Sakigake continues to go after Tengo. She kills the leader and goes into hiding. The rest of the book is Tengo searching for Aomame, Aomame is in hiding, but also watching for Tengo, and Sakigake closing in on Aomame and understanding how to get to her through Tengo.

There is so much more to the book that my loose summary, but that’s the build up to the end. Like I said it is a long book, but it’s a good book and really gets you interested. I didn’t mind the length of the book until towards the end, the 3rd book is definitely they weakest section, but it’s still good. There is repetitiveness, but that’s expected since it was originally a series, books always gotta remind readers a little bit what happened before (but if you are reading all 3 in a row it feels unnecessary). When a book is over 1k pages long and the author is giving out long descriptions of characters cooking food, you want to scream (he didn’t do it too much though, but still). The plot is interesting. It’s a slow build up and then drops big revelations fast at a good pace, it keeps you hooked. There is great background to the characters and just a lot of depth to Aomame and Tengo. It’s not just reading about their lives for the events in the main plot, but also their past and what they are like in their life when it doesn’t surround the plot of the story. It has fantasy elements, but it’s like reading everyday life. It’s a satisfying read, the time and effort going into reading 1Q84 is worth it.

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review 2015-04-21 00:00
1Q84 - Haruki Murakami I first tried reading Murakami several years ago, when The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle came highly recommended to me from several friends. I didn’t make it very far into the book, but not due to lack of interest; as I recall, I had checked it out from the library and had to return it due to there being a long holds list. But 1Q84 is the first book of his I’ve finished, and … well, it’s interesting, to say the least.

I don’t read a lot of literary fiction. I read books mostly for plot, and while I’ve finally come to appreciate character-driven stories, straight-up literary fiction (in my experience) is more about theme than anything else. I say that because I wonder if I’m missing the point of the novel. It does have a plot, and it’s interesting and compelling enough, but I can’t help but think that the story could have been told in a fraction of the length of this novel. My edition clocked in at 1157 pages; I feel like the plot could have been told in about 400, easy, if Murakami condensed some of the dialogue, or left out much of the detail. Because there’s a lot of it. I mean, the level of detail in this novel could put that in American Psycho to shame, and at least in American Psycho the detail was there to show how obsessive and out of touch Bateman was. In 1Q84, I couldn’t determine why all that detail was necessary, to the point where I wonder if those details are what makes this novel significant. But lengthy descriptions of cooking and sleeping and breasts (even the female characters seem obsessed by them) just doesn’t seem like the point of anything here. The novel just feels superficial.

Speaking of the story being compelling, I was surprised to find that the story was very breezy and easy to read. For a story of this length, and from what I’ve heard of Murakami, I was expecting this to be a dense read, but the story flows easily enough. Murakami alternates his points of view from chapter to chapter, first telling the story of one of the characters (Tengo), and then telling the story of the other (Aomame). Both stories are intriguing, and the alternating of the chapters is a good way to keep the reader engaged. I was tempted sometimes to read over certain chapters, but as the stories progressed, it became clear that there was some intertwining of the two, and before long, reading one character’s chapter revealed more about the other. But it did take a long time to get there, and then once the novel reached its conclusion, it seemed to move along too quickly.

Given Murakami’s reputation, I expected there to be some complexity to the story, but when you break it down to its base elements, the story was pretty simple. There was some effort put into interweaving the two stories, but even then, it didn’t have any more complexity than the average fantasy novel. For the length of the novel, I was expecting something a little more impressive.

In addition, the story is described as a love story, and while I can see why, I’m not really convinced that love has anything to do with the story at all. What relationship there was wasn’t convincing to me. There wasn’t a kind of breathless passion that translated the relationship, especially when the two characters in question supposedly fell in love at ten years old, then separated and didn’t see each other for twenty years. And it’s not that they found one another, rediscovered each other, and then built a relationship out of it; they had been pining for each other and had convinced themselves that they were the only ones for each other. And it fell totally flat with me.

Much has been made of the title of the novel, since in Japanese, the word for "nine" is a homophone of the letter Q, making the title a pun on George Orwell's ubiquitous novel. Some of the blurbs speak of the Orwellian setting of the novel, but I don’t really see it. Maybe it’s my lack of understanding of Japanese culture, to the point where I don’t know what’s an actual part of the culture and what isn’t, but nothing in the novel jumped out to me as being equivalent to the political state of Nineteen Eighty-four. The novel is set in that year, and the comparisons are made within and without the novel, but it didn’t make a connection with me.

Overall, the story was just disappointing. I’m still holding out hope for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but I’m kind of curious what fans of that novel think of 1Q84; if they liked this one as much as that one, then maybe I should just pass on that one, too.
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review 2015-03-06 00:00
1Q84 - Jay Rubin,Philip Gabriel,Haruki Murakami So far I'm really enjoying this as I've enjoyed mostly everything by Murakami I've read previously. Bonus points for it being such a long audiobook (46 hours) and having two really good readers. The shifts into alternate realities have been rather subtle and the characters have reacted first with the belief that the differences in universes were always there and somehow they'd just overlooked them which seems an imminently reasonable response. I'm intrigued to see how the two characters will intersect as their paths are so different but also tinged with the tiniest of overlaps. Murakami's flat, matter of fact delivery is a deft tool to deliver the more incredible events in his fiction.

There was a moment where I started to flag in my concern for the two leads, as the action seemed to be in a holding pattern. It seems the author sensed this too, as a third narrative perspective started, and the book regained its early energy. But the end fell kind of flat for me. I don't want to give any spoilers but it all closed much sooner than it seemed the storyline required (at least as far as I was anticipating).
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