This is one of the most unusual and redundant books I have ever read (listened to). I'm not sure if it is a cultural difference between America and Japan, but Murakami describes, in detail, every mundane action and thought a human being might have. The story is based upon human sexuality whether it is gay, heterosexual, extramarital, child sexual abuse, etc., ...that is not to say I am so puritanical that any mention of sex makes me uncomfortable, but the pivotal nature of sex in the story seemingly makes the author pathalogical about the subject. I say that it is redundant not because the ideas about which the author writes are familiar, but because the author restates his ideas in the book two or three times as if the reader is so dense that he or she could not possibly grasp his philosophy the first time or two. I only found this characteristic helpful because my mind wanders so much when I am listening to the story that hearing it again reminds me what is happening. The book is also redudant because the primary literary reference, not surprisingly, is to Orwell's "1984", but there are other unusual literary references made throughout the story.
I have not yet finished the book (I have one more section to go) but I am anxiously awaiting the end of this very drawn out story. The tie-in between the two major characters is so sophomoric and trite that I am almost sorry I've put this much time into it. So far the moral of the story is love overcomes all obstacles with a smattering of Christianity, Buddhism, Capitalism, Socialsm, and modern Japanese manners and ethics..yada, yada, yada.
Compared to the sci-fi book "Ready Player One" this book is long-winded, pedantic and boring. Perhaps so much is lost in the translation from Japanese to English that the story is rendered worthless. Or perhaps Murakami is as mentally ill as he seems. If you are an intelligent person who likes a twist of sci-fi on occasion just to mix things up, this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you found the very entertaining Harry Potter series to be intellictually and spiritually enlightening, then I highly recommend this tome of nonsense.
The story was incredibly engrossing. It made my commute go by so quickly during the weeks that I was listening to it. I usually save my audiobooks for my commute, but I was so caught up in the story of 1Q84 that I found myself listening to it while doing dishes, while organizing my closet, etc....you get the idea...I couldn't put it down!
This was my first Murakami book. I'm now listening to The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I can see similar themes in these two books - somewhat directionless young men, strong/opinionated young women - but so far, I would rank 1Q84 above The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (I'm about 2/3rds of the way through TWUBC).
This was my first exposure to each narrator.
Two Moons and a Moral Dilemma
I liked this book so much that I have now started to work my way through other Murakami novels. This was a gripping and satisfying book.
Author, no. Narrators were fine.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, for 46 hours with nothing important to say. Yes, it's as if the author penned a dream he had; but dreams need to be tweaked for public consumption, and the non-sense made sensible. This was a waste of neurons.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks.
1Q84 is the second book I've listened to in a month that has two "star crossed" lovers who's love is so powerful it alters the world in some sort of supernatural way, The Night Circus being the second book. I feel like if the author is going to build a story around powerful love, there needs to be something that makes me understand it other than just saying what it is. The two lovers, Aoemame and Tengo hold hands briefly when they are ten, after which she moves away. We join the story when they are both in their 30's and both are having empty and unfulfilled lives, feeling that their hand holding was the most pure true love they ever had. Sorry...maybe things like this do happen, but for this story I need more development.
Other problems include the supernatural elements. What the heck? I totally don't get what their function is in this story. Seems useless other than to add mystique.
The book was building toward a finish with what I thought was going to be a resolution with the two lovers, and then in the last third of the book (Act 3?), Murakami introduces a NEW character, a private detective to puzzle out the murder of an important character. This simply does not work and was of absolutely no interest to me as a reader because I had just spent the previous 2/3 of the book reading about what took place! Maybe Murakami wanted to write a mystery thriller. If so, he should have started there and nixed the previous 2/3s of the book. ugh
I also agree with the other reviews about the constant repeating and reviewing - does Murakami think the readers are not paying attention and needs things to be explained over and over?
The narration was also a problem. Allison Hiroto has a baby like quality to her voice that is very distracting. She reads very clearly, however the baby voice grated on me. I also thought some of the dialog she read was a bit flat. The male narrators were fine but not stellar.
Overall, this book did not work. It has some interesting elements but seems to be mostly a mass of information and character development with not enough focus to make it work.
i thanked my son for turning me on to Haruki Murakami with 'wind up' and 'kafka' and i was looking forward to '1q84' and my hour drive to and from work. WOW, what a disappointment. 1st time i arrived at work more brain dead than when i left. i queried what literary device is when characters constantly repeat each other, without the incremental advancing of the story. the only thing apparent is the targeted audience has add or adhd, 'in other words' has trouble following a weak story line. ho-ho!
any suspense was wondering when the suspense will begin. ho-ho!
I previously read
Mostly, I wanted to understand the role of the Little People and whether Aaomame and Tengo ever found each other.
Not with the female narrator.
Unfortunately, not in my perspective.
I should have been forewarned by the claim that the novel was an
Murakami pulled me in to his story so much so that I could not live a day without it. The descriptions of what the characters see, feel and do are so realistic that they become your friends, your enemies, your sisters, your lovers. Morality and social norms are questioned and played with throughout this story which keeps me pondering long after I finished listening. Questions of the world(s) we live in also continue for me. Fantastic listening by fantastic narrators.
I listened to this book for the entire month. What an experience had it been. I have read several critics saying that the book is too long. It indeed like reading 3 books, but what an experience it was. I felt that I was pulled into this fascinating stpory, to this amazing world of 1q84, never wishing to leave this world.
A quote which will probably become eternal - "if you can't understand it with out explanation you will not understand it with an explanation".
This is a rare masterpiece, but is very accessible. No dull moment and still leaves you with so much to absorb and think.
I only regret I could not listen to it in its native language. However the narration is superb. One of the most exciting experiences of any audible book I listened to was when the narrator started to sing from a Bach Passion (if my memory does not betray me).
To summarize, highly recommended!
1Q84 s a book about parallel universes. Not in the SCIFI sense so much as in the moral and a human sense (though there are SCIFI elements). A book about what happens to people (in this case, Aomame and also Tengo) who get off the track in their lives and have to go through some scary stuff in order to get back. It starts with Aomame in a taxi on a freeway in a traffic jam (listening to Janacek's Sinfonetta--which becomes a theme) choosing to get out of the cab and climb down an emergency access stairs to the surface. When she leaves, the cab driver tells her to remember that appearances to the contrary there is just one reality.
But soon it appears that's not true and the world she climbs down into seems different. Her first clue is that the police have different uniforms and are carrying heavier fire power than she remembers. Eventually the icon of the "alternative world" dubbed 1Q84 instead of 1984 (references to Orwell intended) is the second moon in the sky, smaller than the "real" moon, slightly lopsided and green.
Aomame is a serial killer ... of sorts. She happened into that line of work though an elderly rich woman who becomes a client (Aomame is a physical therapist and trainer). Together they target men whose crimes (often but not always crimes against women) that seem not likely to be addressed by the legal system. Aomame's work with the body has put her on to a spot on the back of the neck where she can kill someone instantly leaving no marks. Her job often calls her out to use her skills to help busy people relax which gives her opportunity. She's devised a weapon--a thin needle she keeps in a pouch in her purse. The Dowager identifies the targets and arranges access. Aomame is convinced once the Dowager coaxes her that the men they target deserve to die.
Tengo was a math prodigy in school but has lost interest in math and is playing around with being a writer. He's not published anything yet, but he writes on his days off from the cram school where he teaches math, though on one day a week he frolics with his married lover. He as no friends and few others he sees or talks to. He lives in a old, slightly run down apartment building, cooks for himself and writes in his spare time. When the novel opens, he has been working with Komatsu, the literary editor of a periodical that awards a prize for young and new writers. Tengo has contributed in the past and impressed Komatsu but has never won a prize. This time Komatsu shows Tengo an unusual manuscript which has caught his attention and which he thinks might win not only this prize but a bigger, more prestigious award if it's edited some (actually re-written). The author is a 17-year old girl. Komatsu wants to make into a "star" out of her which will bring money to his publishing house--and to himself and Tengo. Tengo is more that a little skeptical--after all it will be fraud--but he's a relatively passive young man and Komatsu is compelling. Besides Tengo is fascinated by the manuscript of Air Chrysalis.
So we have two basically decent 30-year-olds who have been drifting and two determined and manipulative adults who influence them. It's important that neither Komatsu nor the Dowager is particularly evil. Each has a strong sense of morality and a determination to take matters into their own hands. Both demand (and in most ways deserve) loyalty. Both are loyal in return.
Finally, there's a religious cult called Sakigaki that professes just to be a farming community in the countryside. No one knows much about them, but we learn from Professor Ebbesuno, who's informal guardian to the girl who wrote the manuscript, that she evidently ran away from Sakigaki at age 10 and came to live with the professor who was a friend to her parents. She will not talk about Sakigaki or her parents who have never tried to contact her.
The major portion of the novel consists of sections devoted to Aomame and Tengo alternately. Not exactly first person narratives, mostly third person with the first person (thoughts mainly) printed in italics. We assume after the early chapters that there's some connection between the two but it's a long way into the novel before we learn that Tengo once held her hand when Aomame was a 10-year old girl ostracized in school because her family was associated with a strict religious group. Neither has ever forgotten that. Both somehow assume that the other (if they can find the person after 20 years) is the only person they can be close too, can love. And we learn that Aomame left her parents and their strict Seven-Day-Adventist-type religion at age 10. Tengo believes his strict father is not his real father and has only one enigmatic memory of his mother.
Both eventually discover that they are living in an alternative world, one with two moons and a few others things askew. What happens in this alternative world (in 1Q84) can be impossible in the reality that we know and that they have known. Aomame first and then Tengo seem to recognize that they must meet in the present before either can escape back to the "real world".
It's a multi-layered story which is at once a page turner and a story to contemplate.