Rated as one of 2011’s best books, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami beaconed to me and I finally decided to read the hefty 900 page book. It took me a grueling two weeks to finish.
Murakami takes readers to a world that isn’t a parallel universe, but just a world similar to the time and place of Tokyo in 1984. Aomame, one of the main characters, unknowingly travels from 1984 to 1Q84. She doesn’t realize it until a little later when she sees not one moon but two moons in the sky. She notices only a few other differences such as the strange cult gaining land and financial power in the countryside, and Tokyo police wear a slightly different uniform and carry a more powerful gun. The chapters of the book alternate between Aomame and Tengo Kawana’s perspective. Tengo is an unpublished author who ghost writes and perfects a novella created by a seventeen year old girl named Fuka-Eri. When Tengo finishes the seemingly innocent project, even stranger things begin to happen to him and Aomame.
More of a surreal mystery and thriller set in a subtle dystopia, 1Q84 is a lot of things, but it certainly isn’t the best book of the year. It’s one of the longest and it needs serious editing. The plot and the characterization would have benefited if the editor of the story had edited out 400-500 pages of the book because the bulk of the book is comprised of a superfluous amount of description. Every book needs description, but in 1Q84, Murakami repeats many details about the characters and the setting as if he doesn’t trust the reader to remember. I felt frustrated and a little patronized by the tediousness. Often Murakami describes what is going to happen before it does which leaves no surprises, especially during a scene that had the potential to be tense and exciting but ends up flat and anti-climatic. At the end, I felt unsatisfied and the story didn’t seem complete or fully fleshed out.
I didn’t hate this book, but weeks after reading it, I still don’t know what to think about it. I did enjoy Aomame, Fuka-Eri, and Tengo’s character and I believe the plot had excellent potential. However, the unnecessary description and the rushed ending makes 1Q84 only a mediocre book and definitely not worthy of outstanding.