J.F., CA. I am a voracious "bookaholic" who enjoys many different genres. I am often listening to/reading multiple books at the same time.
This book is such a great listen. The plot is fresh, different and so multi textured. The characters are complex and well developed. Although the story is very long, it keeps you well engaged. The different sub-plots takes a while to merge but each protagonist's story is so interestiing on its on that it is ok. The pace and cadence at which the story is told are also just right. I hope there is another book from this author that is translated in English. I will be searching. You won't be disappointed with this book and you are getting a lot for just one Audible credit. By the way, the narrators did a great job too!!!
I have read most of the Murakami novels. Overall I enjoyed this book but with some reservations. My two cents.
1. Strong narrator performance.
2. Usual Murakami magic realism.
1. Over-bloated. 1/3rd too long. The author had material only for two books. Third book-part is so boringly slow. Too much overlap between story lines when characters are basically stepping on each other toes and figuring out the same puzzle parts again and again.
2. Far-fetched love story axis (like in chic lit) made me roll my eyes many times while listening to the book. Some kind of not really believable Japanese version of Odysseus.
For Murakami first novel readers:
1. Be aware that novel is spiced up with some sex scenes. This should be nothing new for the person who read several Murakami novels.
2. Not the best Murakami novel as first read.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Man, this was a book I really had to let soak in for a while before I could figure out what to say about it. I'll admit that after finishing I remained a bit baffled by the magic realism -- receivers? perceivers? dohtas? little people? W-t-F, Murakami? However, my brain eventually made connections to various themes in the novel, especially the theme of abuse, and things at last clicked. Now, my mind feels more impressed.
Still, even if I didn't get it straightaway, Murakami succeeded in pulling me into the Proustian stream of his 925 page opus, and keeping me in its currents. The story is intriguing, detailed, dark, full of profound questions, and has its share of beautiful, memorable moments, where dream logic and real life momentarily take flight together.
One character on Proust: “It’s like I’m in a boat paddling upstream. When I take a rest, and I’m thinking about something, I find myself back where I started. There is a sense of time wavering irregularly when you try to forge ahead; if what is in front is behind, and what is behind is in front, it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
The main plot of 1Q84 isn’t too complicated. Two young adults leading separate lives in 1984 Tokyo are connected by a memory of a brief childhood encounter that remains unusually strong for both of them. One, Tengo, is a writer who is recruited to polish a novella called “Air Chrysalis”, which was written by an odd 17-year-old girl who fled from a secretive cult. The other, Aomame, is a fitness instructor who has a second, much riskier job that eventually brings her into contact with the leader of that cult. Somehow, both of these characters are pulled into a parallel reality that’s almost 1984 Japan, but isn’t quite. For one thing, there are now two moons in the sky. For another, there are the mysterious “Little People”, who appear in Air Chrysalis, and seem to be pulling the strings of reality for reasons ultimately left to the reader's interpretation.
Murakami at his best is a captivating storyteller, and 1Q84's filmic level of detail drew me in. The gradual unveiling of the protagonists’ backstories and connections to other people and events kept me engaged, and several characters were pretty interesting. Like Proust, Murakami seems not to see life and time simply as straight-ahead flows, but as things with eddies, backflows, still pools, branches, intersections, and layers, all worth exploring. I especially enjoyed the clever, repellent private eye, Ushikawa, who becomes an important player in Book Three, before meeting cosmic justice in one of 1Q84’s most memorable scenes. There are also some powerful moral questions afloat in the story -- when do our choices fragment the world and create some second reality? When are we just paper dolls in the flow of someone else’s narrative? When should we break from those who have hurt us?
If you haven’t read Murakami before, you might want to start with another novel (I recommend Hard-boiled Wonderland) to get a taste for his way of blurring the mundane and surreal. However, if you enjoy this groove, and are willing to take on a more marathon experience of it, 1Q84 has plenty of rewards. I’d advise people, though, that there's a lot of sex and sexual imagery in the story, some of it a bit strange -- comfort levels may vary.
I don’t disagree with readers who thought the book got a little tedious and self-indulgent in places -- in fact, this was the first title that made me grateful for audible’s 2X playback speed feature -- but even the slow parts held me. Marc Vietor, who performs Tengo’s side of the story, does a good job, but I really enjoyed Allison Hiroto’s reading of Aomame’s story, which she does with an American accent, but an inflection that seems Japanese. I was moved by how they mingled their voices in the last chapter.
All in all, 1Q84 was a novel that requires some work from the reader to grapple with its cryptic layers and illuminate its meaning, but it was one that left me seeing the world a little differently.
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I read other reviewers who gave up on this book up after 30 hours; I don't know how they got that far, let alone finished it. The snail's pace of the narrator was excrutiating, and the repetitive minutiae drove me insane. I pulled the plug after 2 hours.
I was disappointed by this book. I really enjoyed The Windup Bird Chronicle and was hoping for more of the same, but 1Q84 tried too hard to evoke Orwell's 1984. Also, Allison Hiroto's narration is terrible: she sounds like she's reading an info-mertial and she gives all the male characters the same staccato, monotone. The male narrators are okay.
I usually like really long books, but this one was way to long and included a lot of unnecessary repetition (of things that were said about two sentences before) and detail that doesn't add to the story.
There are too many mysteries presented that allude to some greater meaning-to-be-explained that are never resolved and don't actually mean anything.
His writing is so incredible 3 stars are warranted for his writing alone. However, if you are going to take me on a magical ride to some spectacular world, you have to take me on a magic ride back. I am feeble minded. You cannot leave me with myriad unanswered questions. When he writes in the book that Air Chrysalis did not explain the little people, I was hoping he would not do the same. Not only did he fail to tie up those loose ends but many other were left dangling. I feel like I wasted over 30 hours of listening (I listen at 1.5 speed) and I get no closure on the other universe ... the little people, Fukaeri , other characters, etc. The writing was incredible, but I hate being left in the dark.
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
1Q84 lives along the thin line between mysticism and spiritualism. It is a fantastical adventure through the author's musings about how emotions create reality. I don't know if it is the translators or the author but I did not get the sense that I was allowed to sink into the Japanese culture, but rather cruise a Europeanized/Americanized filtered vision of what might be Japan. It's disconcerting enough to break the reader's mood as are the too frequent allusions and name droppings of stuff the author's read. A couple of times I wondered if perhaps there was a bit of pretension here and there.
Now, do I recommend 1Q84... Well, yeah, I guess. But more for the plot than the blizzard of symbols and allegorical references. The story's compelling... haunting... hypnotic. And well... unusual. You know what? This very long novel is worth the time. I'll think about it... and perhaps feel about it... for a good long time. Which is what I'm thinking this whole experience was :-)
And I don't know why. Maybe because I had already made it through about fifteen hours of pointless, over-written, repetitive boredom so that I was determined to discover why this industrial-strength long novel garnered such glowing reviews. And I didn't want to be left out of the intelligent appreciation club.
But...I literally walked away while the narration was going on and then would come back to be hearing the same monologue over and over again in every different form---the character thinks it, then the character does it, then the character thinks about it again, then the character talks to another character about it, then the character thinks about it... . I never missed anything.
And maybe it was the translation, but the constant (and I mean constant) repetition of the characters' names, over and over again, was truly irritating. Speaking of the translation, so much of this novel seemed so "Westernized" to me with little reference to anything Japanese except maybe food. That might have been purposeful, but it robbed the atmosphere of any Asian flavor. And don't get me started on the author's obsession with breasts and pubic hair.
I actually appreciate that others liked this novel, but it sure wasn't meant for me. I need to listen to something light and frothy where things actually happen.
I haven't read any of the author's other works, nor do I know anything about him except what the translators say at the conclusion, but I don't think I'm going to try.
56 year old working wife, mother and grandmother.
I decided to quit listening and did not finish the book. The story was intriguing but I could not get past the too frequent sexual escapades. As other readers had noted, I also was irritated with the repeating of a statement. It made the story move too slowly.
I liked the male voices however found the female voice undesirable.
I am not averse to listening to long books. I have made it through both "War and Peace" and "Atlas Shrugged". In the hands of good narrators even the longest books are a pleasure.
This, however, is only a fair story. And a pretty common one as science fiction goes. There's a mystery that ties together a couple of main characters. Their stories run parallel for a while then the stories intersect. In some places I could see the next scene coming a mile away. But all in all, it's not a bad story. A good editor would have made this a great story and cut down at least 30% of the text.
But the narrators really spoiled this for me. For some reason, the female character's tale is told at an excruciatingly slow pace. At times I sped this up to double speed, something I have never done, in an effort to move things along. Even at double speed I wanted to reach into the recording and shake this narrator and scream, "All right already, get on with it!" The male readers are almost as bad. Seriously...where was the production director on this one?
Can't recommend this audio. Get the print edition and skip liberally through this tale.