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.
This story is spectacular and completely engrossing. One difficulty, however, is the fact that the female reader provides an overly enunciated reading that has an almost saccharine affect to it.
I've listened to a bunch of Murakami books and I have enjoyed the better part of them tremendously. 1Q84 was definitely worth the wait, though I found it a bit too long.
I loved the way the story was told from different viewpoints of the characters. The narration was rather good with a few pointers.
Being a regular murakami-reader and a big fan of the Rat trilogy, I missed Jay Rubin's vocal interpretation of Ushikawa. (but that's personal)
The vocal interpretation of Ushikawa became even more confusing when taken over by the male narrator of this book. I would prefer an audio version where each separate character is narrated and colored by one narrator.
The female voice dragged a bit towards the end of the book. (Sounding more and more like an airport flight-announcer... sorry.)
The male voice had a very, very heavy american accent which to my taste could have been tuned down a bit.
The book is definitely worth your credit. I would not recommend it as a first Murakami-read, though. Going trough the trilogy of the rat first (pinball 1973, dance dance dance, a wild sheep chase ) and through The wind-up bird chronicle helps to appreciate the literary universe that is murakami's. It definitely added to my listening pleasure.
After the 12th hour of listening I am finally giving up on this book. It goes on and on with very little happening. Comparisons to the Millenium Trillogy are off. Also, I found Allison Hiroto reading to be difficult to follow. Almost as if she was reading to children.
I am sure this book has great literary value (or so I am told). But it was wasted on me. Perhaps it is better read then heard due to it's length.
Alice in Wonderland but with real people and a "real world". I could have gone on listening to this book - 900 pages was too short .
I don't think I have ever been able to see and feel characters like I did in this book. Unlike ones where the first chapter was used to tell you what a character was like, you felt these characters grow and evolve throughout the book like a faint portrait that gradually sharpens to clarity.
The ONLY issue I had was with the narration. The three narrators didn't always pronounce names the same way which led to some sorting out on my part.
Never heavy handed or obtuse, the story was as straightforward as a child's fairly tale but with the subtlties and nuances that appeal to adults.