Well, shit, it’s over. Took me three months to read this one, and after that last page, I want to start all over again. I got to know Aomame and Tengo in every way possible, and I will miss them like old friends.
1Q84 is the third longest book I’ve read, as far as page count is concerned. It is also one of the only books over a thousand pages that I’ve read which was not written by Stephen King. I plan on fixing that over the next year by reading Gone with the Wind and Alan Moore’s newest, Jerusalem, and any other 1,000-page motherfuckers I can find. Not too interested in fantasy novels, but I might throw The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss, in there too. We’ll see how the mood strikes me.
What should you know about 1Q84? Well, it’s a slow burn. It’s definitely not a page-turner. It’s literary fiction, so don’t expect action and fight scenes and too much in the way of straight-line plot progression. It’s magical realism, so expect to find some weird shit going down that people are overall okay with. Two moons in the sky? Why the fuck not. Exploding dogs? Okay then. Whatever you say.
Will you like it? See, that’s the question I cannot answer with any certainty. If most of you in my friends list asked me if you should read this book, I’d likely say no. It’s long and can be boring if you do not become invested in the characters like I did. I say that because you will learn every little detail about Aomame and Tengo, and you might not always be interested in their pasts.
I, however, loved every minute of this book. After two duds from Murakami (The Elephant Vanishes and Wind/Pinball… I guess that’s technically three duds…), 1Q84 was a welcome return to the style I fell in love with after reading After Dark and Norwegian Wood. However, you should definitely read a shorter Murakami book before reading this one. I can’t imagine anyone starting here. It would be like skipping the jungle gyms on the school playground and rushing straight for Mt. Everest.
This epic novel is broken up into three books. I believe that the original Japanese text was released in three completely different volumes. I never saw a clear ending point after book one, two, and three, so had I read these separately, I don’t think I would have liked them as much. I did find it fascinating that I could tell the difference between the first two books and the final book. Something felt… off, is the best way I can explain it. Then I read the copyright page at the back and I find that the first two books were translated by Jay Rubin, whereas the third book was translated by Philip Gabriel. To me, there is an obvious difference between these two translators, but, if asked, I could not put a finger on what made the experience different. Odd.
Murakami nails the opening and closing of the novel. At the beginning, you can feel the shift from 1984 into what Aomame comes to call 1Q84. The last time I felt so certain that I was in a different place was while watchingDisney’s Alice and Wonderland as a child. The cool part is that there isn’t much difference between 1984 and 1Q84, only this feeling that 1984 is the real world, and in 1Q84, anything goes.
In summation: This review will likely grow as I digest more of this stunning novel, but for now, this is what you’re getting. Air chrysalises and Little People and Sakigake and Buzzcut and Ponytail and Ushikawa and Aomame and Tengo are all part of my life now. I will never forget any part of 1Q84and I will definitely reread it on occasion. One of the best novels I’ve had the pleasure to experience.
Final Judgment: Magic.