1Q84 — From Haruki Murakami

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As every novel written by Murakami, we can find big amounts of fantasy, sex, strange scenarios and characters living in parallel worlds that come out of the ordinary. However 1Q84 takes its fictional features to another level.

Aomame, the main character, is a young girl who kills abusive men as a job, paid by a wealthy woman who rescues women victims of violence. Aomame was in her 20s when she found herself living in a strange dimension after listening to Janácek’s symphony while going in a taxi to kill a powerful man. She started noticing some changes in the world: Policemen carrying different guns and strange news on the newspapers, one of them about a fight of a secta in the mountains that led some people to death and ended up with deep political divisions within the cult. She baptized that new dimension as 1Q84, a parallel year to 1984. She was born in a secta as well, but scaped being really young, leaving her entire family behind. The only person that stayed in her thoughts was Tengo, a strange, introverted kid whom she felt in love when she was a ten-year-old.

Aomame was a strange person living strange situations. Those strange events caught up with her the day she had to kill the leader of the cult. Everything felt into place when she met her victim, who actually made a deal with her: If she killed him, Tengo would be safe and sound in their new dimension, the year 1Q84.  

Tengo was also a big part of the story, a math professor, a frustrated writer, he met Fuka-Eri, a weird 17 year old girl who had supposedly written a literature master piece. Komatsu, the odd editor for whom Tengo worked as a corrector, asked him to fix the problems of the manuscript so she could be presented in public as the new literary discovery. One thing led to the other, making Tengo and Aomame’s worlds meet in the middle, as Fuka-Eri, the 17-year-old, was the cult leader’s daughter.

This entertaining novel is divided in three books, telling the story through the different months of the year 1Q84. The first two books are both the stories of Oamame and Tengo respectively. The third book tells also the story of Ushikawa, an odd detective that  followed the lives of Tengo and Oamame.

I was impressed of how the reviews of this book were so different. For some reviewers the novel had a cliché narrative and plot, including the sex scenes, the dialogs, the characters feelings and thoughts, who were qualified as ‘elementary’. For example, the love of Tengo and Aomame that started as a 10-year-olds, or the villains, the ‘little people’ who were not scary but overall ridiculous. But for many more the author kept his promise of engaging with some issues of the past in Japan, such as cult related sects and the 1995 nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Whatever the opinion is, Murakami kept playing between dimensional worlds, because it worked for him and his audience. I would not call Murakami’s writing ‘elementary’, nor simple either, nor cliché.  However, after reading a couple of his books, including ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle’, I felt it was a different book of the same kind. Still, Murakami is always worth to read and enjoy.

Recommended as a good holiday reading!


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