Author: Haruki Murakami
Review Summary: Although the book was long and the ending was abrupt, I loved the writing and can’t wait to read more books by Murakami.
This book was so long and so strange that I’m not even sure where to start telling you what it was about, but I’ll do my best. The story involves two main characters and we alternate between their view points. Aomame is an assassin and Tengo is a writer. As the story progresses, they get pulled closer and closer together by events that initially seemed unrelated but which turn out to have a deep connection. The book involves questions of destiny and pre-determination, parallel worlds and some surprising magical elements.
Like my summary above, the synopsis I read before starting 1Q84 told me what the story was about but gave me no idea what the story was going to be like. I think the best genres labels to describe the book are “literary” and “magical realism”. The writing reminded me of both Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. Like Ray Bradbuy, Murakami shares strange and incredible things as though they’re normal. He also matches Bradbury’s ability to craft sentences so beautiful I just want to read them out loud. Like King, I felt a build up of a suspense through the many mundane details, a certainty that something wasn’t quite right below the surface. Since I like both King and Bradbury, I consider this high praise and well deserved. The writing was superb.
Although I can’t disagree with those who say 1Q84 was longer than it needed to be, I think I liked that about it. I loved the quotes from other stories that seem like the author’s way of telling you something about his story. I loved the beautiful descriptions of people and places and feelings, the incredibly apt analogies. I loved the way everything was interconnected. I loved the way hearing the most intimate thoughts and dreams and memories of the characters gives you a much deeper connection than you can usually get with fictional characters. And I loved that all the characters were so unique. What prevented this from being a five star review for me was the abruptness of the ending. There’s a lot of build up to one particular event, which passed by too quickly and left me with the feeling that this already-long novel still needed a sequel. I have, however, read several reviews that suggest this is not one of Murakami’s best works, so I’ll definitely be looking to read more by this author.