Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1Q84 is one of the must interesting and stimulating books I've ever read. It was a my first Murakami and I'm glad. It's a commitment, at over 1100 pages (on my Nook) it was definitely a commitment to read. I liked so much about the book its hard to figure out where to start-

A brief summary of the books would be that it's about two characters Aomame and Tengo. Both characters are approaching 30, from the same area of Japan, attended the same school for two years and were in the same class. Both live simple lives doing what they do well, Aomame is a fitness instructor and Tengo is a Math Teacher. What they are both unpaid for it what defines them Aomame is an assassin of men who beat women and Tengo is a writer who gets involved in a questionable situation. The world changes and both could potentially be in danger. The rest of the story is too good to give away but their lives become re-entwined and even though they haven't seen each other in years they must find each other. The book contains- a religious cult, re-writing a story that some wich hadn't been written at all, runaway girls, strange sex, murder, lots of food, lots of repetition and little people. (it's a 1100 page book trust me there's way more to it than this)

I liked the structure, going between different point of views it fun and keeps a book this long from getting stale. The non-linear structure is also very exciting. You never know if events are happening before or after the previous chapter. Because of this so many near-meetings of the two main characters take place.

I loved all the other literary references, cultural references and music references in the book. Half way through this book I had a conversation with everyone I know about how strange it is to me that other people around the world seem to know so much more about American society and culture than we do about theirs. Unless I seek it out I feel like I never hear about foreign politics, entertainment, music or books. In 1Q84 Murakami references Chekhov's Gun, Out of Africa, George Orwell, Proust and Dostoyevsky- also one of the process of writing novels, he retells several stories in the text, the Gilyaks, Town of Cats, the actual Air Chrysalis story- I really enjoyed these because be readying what the characters were actually reading it gave greater insight into the characters. The theme "town of cats" proceeded to follow the Tengo around and was applicable to so many situations.

The descriptions were great, though they were given over and over again. It seemed like every thing that happened had to be described three different times in very similar ways. Lots of detail on mundane things that normally aren't given as much attention.

The character of Aomame reminded me of another very strong woman who disliked men who hate women, so I often got a very Lisbeth Salandar feel from her, but she was also a lot softer and we see a lot more of her emotions and feelings than we ever saw of Lisbeth's. Tengo was sort of a mystery, I feel like we never really learned what made him tick, he was often very sad or confused. One of my favorite characters Ushikawa never got the resolution I wanted him to get, he was interesting and I felt like his motives were more than just helping Sakegake. The girl responsible for the Air Chrysalis story Fuka-Eri was just strange and weird, like a woman-child too old to act that way but too damaged to know any better.

I started this book at the end of December. I read the first chapter and put it down for a few weeks. Then read the first book and put it down for an entire month. I read the second and third books back to back. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to get lost in a world similar to our own but still very different. I think because it took place in Japan I was able to have that disassociation with it and it really drew me in. I will definitely be looking at other Murakami books in the future.

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