It may have taken two weeks to read this book, but it was completely worth it. I don’t know the last time I’ve spent this much time basking in the beauty and wonderment of a novel. 1Q84 counts for my 2013 Mount TBR and Tea & Books challenges. Now on to my response, which is jumpy and hardly all-inclusive, but hopefully it portrays some of the wondrousness this novel is. Let’s just say I can’t wait to read more Murakami, regardless of if it’s a mind f*ck like Kafka on the Shore or like 1Q84, which is also technically a mind f*ck.
How does one even begin to classify Murakami. From the two books I’ve read the only things I can definitely say are that he defies genres and bucks trends, is incredibly well versed in classic literature and music and popular culture (films and music) and his descriptions are so vivid you don’t have to strive to imagine things because you see them completely formed in front of you. What I can appreciate is Murakami usually drops a line into his books which perfectly explain the books (so far, again I’ve only read two) and this books is (NOT A REAL SPOILER, but maybe skip the quote if you don’t want to know anything – the rest is okay though.),
“Even if it was hard to picture such a coincidence, Ushikawa’s intuition told him that this hypothesis felt more likely than the conspiracy theory. The two of them, driven by different motives, and approaching things from different angles, just happened to simultaneously shake Sakigake to the core. Two story lines at work, with different starting points but running parallel to each other.” (701)
Murakami takes genres and melds them seamlessly forcing the reader to either believe in what’s happening or completely reject what’s happening. The books are a lot easier to read and a hell of a lot more interesting if you believe it and suspend all sense of disbelief, especially in 1Q84.
I’m sure I missed so much, but what I took away was how brilliant (and convoluted) Murakami’s mind must be. The basic premise of the novel is that parallel worlds/universes exist, but they exist within the same physical space. In essence some people (the main characters being two of them) are living in one universe/world while the rest of the world continues on in the ‘regular’ world. And that us what I think makes this such a great novel, I mean it could actually be happening, but we don’t know about it! It also doesn’t hurt that Murakami is a master at character creation and simplicity.
One of the best parts of this novel is that even though it checks in at over 900 pages (925), there are very few characters. I could probably name all the characters now and of course there would be some I left off, but he is very consistent about not introducing many characters and I appreciated it and quite enjoyed it. And until the end, I found it easy to follow the stories and the time line of the main characters. Told from two perspectives for 80% of the book, Aomame’s and Tengo’s, Murakami added a third perspective, Ushikawa, and it was definitely needed, but it showed the relativeness of time and space.
It also didn’t hurt that the entire novel was about unrequited love and looking for your other half, and we all know I’m a sucker for those stories. There was also political/religious intrigue, death, wild parties, an assassin and a dowager among other things. The only thing that could’ve added to it would be a dragon, but those don’t need to be in every book. And thinking about it, there might’ve been mention of one.
Recommendation: DEFINITELY read it. Take your time and enjoy it. If possible read the three ‘books’ back to back (in America, they’ve released it in one book) or with nothing too serious in between, but they could stand alone.
Opening Line: “The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast.”
Closing Line: “Until it was nothing more than a gray paper moon, hanging in the sky.” (Whited out.)
Additional Quotes from 1Q84
“But utopias don’t exist, of course, anywhere in any world. Like alchemy or perpetual motion. What Takashima is doing, if you ask me, is making mindless robots. They take the circuits out of people’s brains that make it possible for them to think for themselves. Their world is like the one that George Orwell depicted in his novel. I’m sure you realize that there are plenty of people who are looking for exactly that kind of brain death. It makes life a lot easier. You don’t have to think about difficult things, just shut up and do what your superiors tell you to do. You never have to starve.” (121-122)
“The role of a story was, in the broadest terms, to transpose a single problem into another form. Depending on the nature and direction of the problem, a solution could be suggested in the narrative. Tengo would return to the real world with that suggestion in hand. It was like a piece of paper bearing the indecipherable text of a magic spell. At times it lacked coherence and served no immediate practical purpose. but it would contain a possibility. Someday he might be able to decipher the spell. That possibility would gently warm his heart from within.” (178)
“If you can love someone with your whole heart, even one person, then there’s salvation in life. Even if you can’t get together with that person.” (192)
“The world has two systems, ‘cap-i-tal-izum’ and ‘com-yoon-izum,’ that hate each other. Both systems, though, have big problems, so the world is generally moving in a direction that is not good. ‘Com-yoon-izum’ was originally an oustanding ideology with high ideals, but it was twisted out of shape by ‘self-serving politicians.'” (534)