There are certain types of readers for whom 1Q84, the latest novel written by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami , is not for. I am just going to list the types because if you find yourselves among these types you will not like this book. You will read it, complain that this review was inaccurate and possibly prevent someone who would completely love this novel from reading it. If you are the person who likes their books to hold true to one specific genre or another you will not like it. It has elements that are, technically speaking, science fiction, but that is a minor plot device. It is an action book , but the action is slow, Mr. Murakami sometimes brings things out to painful detail, however the details are necessary and Mr. Murakami actually gives away the whole plot and how it will be resolved, but you never know it until the last page or so. If you like books that have clear and logical conclusions when character exit and why they are no longer relevant you will find yourself quite quickly tearing up your book (or smashing your e-reader) into very small pieces. If you like short books, then I suggest you stop reading this review right now , at nearly 1000 pages in the print edition it is a behemoth of a book. For the rest of still reading this book, if there is only one book you purchase this year, 1Q84 should be the one.
The characters are all well drawn. There is the aspiring writer by day, fearless math cram teacher by night Tengo Kawana who is going no where in his life fast and who, by editing a bizarre book but a young girl and the request of his editor and long time friend Komatsu, sets all the events in motion. Another main character is Aomame, the gym instructor who kills men who prey on wives and girlfriends with skill that would make any Ninja proud. Finally there is the silent and mysterious Fuka-ari whose account of the little people, an innocent story sets all the events in motion. They are supported by a host of characters who in some small part tug and jolt the story along in a way that only a true master like Mr. Murakami could pull off successfully.
If you decide to venture into the alternate reality of 1Q84 don’t let its large 1000 page size scare you away. The book was originally published in three volumes so, in the grand tradition of War and Peace, it is suitably large. Almost by design each story is a story within the story. These sub stories are necessary because the whole concept to tell the complex story. They also seem to provide a natural break for the reader. So much so you may often find yourself thinking “Oh the book is nearly finished…no..wait..there are another 600 pages..”. It is worth the patience and each story contains details, even if it is a sentence or a situation, that is relevant in end.
Haruki Murakami is a genius and his writing shows a level of understanding the art of storytelling that is far deeper than any modern writer. Trying to describe the plot or anything more than the basics of the book would be a disservice to his words. His book 1Q84, despite its monstrous length, convoluted (yet at the same time completely clear) plot and unresolved manner of writing make this an enjoyable and well worthwhile reading experience. Trust me it is an experience. Oh yes , a bit of advice, before you start reading the book, count the number of moons in the sky, just to make sure.