The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realises, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - 'Q' is for 'question mark'. A world that bears a question.
Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.
As Aomame's and Tengo's narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell's, 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami's most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
BONUS AUDIO: Audible interviews the translators of 1Q84, Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel.
©2011 Haruki Murakami (P)2011 Audible Ltd
"It is a work of maddening brilliance and gripping originality, deceptively casual in style...vibrating with wit, intellect and ambition." (The Times)
"Eerie, suspenseful and packed full of gorgeous ordinary details and provocative extraordinary events...funny, fresh and intensely surreal. Unmissable." (Marie Claire)
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"Unapologetically rambling and surreal"
This isn't a book for people who like every loose end neatly tied up, and every mechanism explained. I don't level that as a criticism - Groundhog Day for instance doesn't make any effort to supply a reason for anything happening, and it's all the better for it.
There are many surreal passages, partly the events, partly I suspect the alien nature of the culture being described (alien to me, anyway). Looked at coldly, there's a fair bit of repetition, but this has a hypnotic, layered and atmospheric effect.
The three narrators give great performances, with light Japanese accents that remain easy to understand but underscore the location.\
There's hardly any point in attempting to describe the plot, but there are many satisfying moments, built out of apparently nothing, yet still leaving a mark.
A last warning; if you're out and about, make absolutely certain you have your headphones plugged in. There are quite a few sex scenes that although not gratuitous or pointlessly foul-mouthed, are explicit enough that you wouldn't want them broadcast in the queue at Tesco.
"Too slow for me"
Seems an ok storyline but the pace and the narrator just don't work for me, got a couple of hours into it but have given up. Could well be as good as its reported to be but it doesn't work for me as a story for driving to.
I've got through about six hours of this but am giving up- the narration goes from bland emotionless male narrator to 'bedtime story for six year olds' female narrator. I was willing to put up with it until the female character started to recap earlier events; they weren't that interesting the first time round.
"An interesting surreal story, with great narrators"
The story is interesting and surreal, at times it weaves a fascinating world, however sometimes it is repetitive and boring. The book is not a fast moving plot but instead feeds you little bits that come together slowly to create a bigger picture. At times the plot grinds to a halt and goes off on tangents that really don't matter to the core plot. The author entrances you with brilliant details, but then jolts you out by constantly repeating plot points. This book could be half the size and convey the same depth and atmosphere.
The narrators are all really good, they convey distinct voices for each character and read at a good speed. This makes the book easy to listen to, and very enjoyable.
Over all it is a nice story but is a little drawn out.
If you like Murakami you will love this long, engaging and magical book. The characters, even the minor ones, are all interesting and original and draw you to them. Some of the professional reviewers said that the plot sagged in places but I did not find this and it maintained my interest throughout. The narration, while not quite of the quality of that of Wind Up Bird, does do the book justice. I did find, however, that in parts Allison Hiroto used the same intonation repeatedly (you'll recognise it when you hear it) and it just jarred a little. If you want a long, leisurely read and a gripping story full of
imagination, drama and surprise then read it. Sex scenes sometimes hilarious!
"1Q84 welcome to this world"
Kept me listening for 5 weeks, addictive, not as surreal as some writers make out, belief is easily suspended.
An intimate glimpse into japanese society that most Westerners know little about. The whole novel isn't a 5 star for me, but that is not to detract from it, the readers were superb.
"Overlong and under-planned"
OK - it sounds worth a credit given that it's 6 volumes of listening and if you're a Murakami fan, like me, it's an instant decision to download it. Beware! This is NOT Wind-up Bird Chronical. It sounds as if it's been made up as he went along - and couldn't work out where to stop. The characters are well done, as usual, but the plot is thin and takes hours to get nowhere, with endless repetitions. It needs a good edit certainly, but even then it probably isn't worth the effort.
Murakami's usual brilliant prose is lacking (possibly lost in translation, but nevertheless uninteresting) and the elements of magical realism are almost laughably rediculous. The story-within-a-story idea isn't strong enough to carry the novel and one wishes that there was some element of Vonnegut's Kilgour Trout (who, hilariously, realises that he is a character in a novel) humour in there. Sadly it's all rather dour and serious (unless you are laughing at it, rather than with it), even when the little people emerge from the mouth of a dead goat....
Anyway, my tip for Murakami lovers is to pass this one by and wait for the next...
PS - note for American audio narrators: "route" is not the same word as "rout"; "shone" rhymes with "gone", not with "bone"....
"Disappointing and Overlong"
I can see that this novel has some literary merit and I imagine that it has a greater significance in the cultural context of Japan. However, I found it a very disappointing audiobook. There is a story in there but it is far too long and embraces too much trivial and unnecessary detail. What might have been an epic was rather more of a bore. It was also spoilt by the narration - in particular, the female narrator seemed to treat the task as though it were a remedial reading class in primary school and I found her tone and delivery very irritating. I love audiobooks and this is the first one I have found disappointing.
"I don't understand the hype..."
I was a victim of the enormous publicity surrounding the English release of Murakami's fantasy epic but found it overly long, tedious and repetitive. In my opinion the story''s mystery pales in comparison to the mystery of it's popularity.
"Disappointed and underwhelmed"
Where to start?
Contrary to some other reviewers opinions,I thought Allison Hirotos' narration perfectly suited Aomame and she (Aomame) came alive brilliantly through Allison.
Tengo's character infuriated me (which tells me rather more about me than being a 'dig' at the narration)
I enjoyed and soaked up Ushikawa character and visualised him to be the despicable man he was written to be
This book was a conscious move away my regular (and safe) genres; I'm no critic & I wouldn't particularly know a hit from a miss, but I now know that if this is indicative of this genre or style of book then it may well prove to me my last foray into it.
I chose 1Q84 principally from the synopsis, which read brilliantly, having not heard of the author beforehand. I did a double take at the length but thought as I was going to be listening on my commutes into and out of work, this shouldn't be too much of an issue. I struggled for the first 6-7 hours but because of, and only because of, Hiroto's narration of Aomame I kept listening, positive in my belief that the story would 'pick up'. I did not. The plot seems directionless, as if Murakami made it up as he went along. It is drab in the extreme, it read as though written by primary school children and I seriously thought it would end like it was written by one with the old '…and then we woke up and it was morning!!' However, the ending wasn't quite as good as that: rather it just dissipated into nothingness.
There were elements that enthused me but after approximately 6 weeks (or 47 hours) of attentive listening I was left utterly disappointed and underwhelmed. I feel the story could have been magnificent but it needed to be shorter, littered less with inconsequential nonsense and finished with far more drama than it was.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
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