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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This is a very long novel, at times sentimental and predictable, but on the whole well written and entertaining. The two male readers are good, while the constantly monotonous female reader is mostly unconvincing.
"female narrator is unbearable"
I am strongly considering returning this, because although it strikes me as a good book, the female narrator is unbearable and the male narrators are merely not as bad as she is. I do not recommend it at all - the stars are for the writing alone.
"A poor shadow of Murakami's earlier masterpieces"
This novel is really quite heartbreaking. I love Murakami's writing - I have read and enjoyed all of his earlier works. I really hope this is just a temporary wobble from this masterful writer. Still, this novel was such a struggle towards the end (I actually gave up before getting there) that I will think twice about buying the next novel, especially if it weighs in at 900+ pages! It reads like a moderately skilled novice writer copied Murakami's style but didn't quite have the talent to create the magic that makes Murakami's writing so wonderful. You recognise the style, but it's like a dull caricature of Murakami's other work. It opens with promise (i was full of anticipation listening to the first chapter), but then it just drags on and on - a Wagner opera without the good bits. So what happened? Who knows - perhaps Murakami is uncomfortable with his success? It's actually hard to know where the problem occurred here, much of the fault could be in the translation and, as a few of the other reviewers have pointed out, certainly it needs to be edited - I mean, seriously! The book is long and slow, whole sections of the story are repeated, you even get the same phrases repeated - this is particularly obvious in audio book form because you can get through it so much faster (some times you find yourself wondering if you haven't accidentally loaded a part of the book you have already listened to). I reckon you could have edited this down by at least a third and got a much more engaging story. Another notable change is the switch to the third person from the usual first person writing. Perhaps this took Murakami himself out of the novel and with him went the magic? All together, a bit of a disaster really and a waste of an awful lot of time without much reward. I hope Murakami gets back to himself in his next novel!
"Really well written"
I've now listened to a few Haruki Murakami books, and have enjoyed all of them. Interestingly, this one was translated by more than one person, which you might think would make the style a bit bitty, but it doesn't at all - it flows well throughout. As with all his novels I've read/listened to, it's a bit weird - sort of sci-fi and sort of everyday life, all mixed up together. Somehow he manages to make it work and easy to follow. And although he does use the same kind of mix of genres in other books, they are still very different from each other. He also writes incredibly well.
"Disappointing - living up to the title is hard."
This is an intriguing story but an unsatisfying "read"; If I want magical realism, I'll opt for the depth and wit of Rushdie rather than the cold surrealism on offer here.
'Cold' being the operative word. The book just leaves me cold. The actors/readers are professional if unemotional, but I don't think the fault lies with them. I think the characters themselves come across as unemotional. Perhaps this is a cultural artifact. The Japanese attitude towards sex can be very 'matter of fact', but for all the sexual content in this book it "reads" with all the passion and emotion of an Ikea flat-pack instruction manual.
"Science Fiction and Surrealism"
If you are thinking of entering the world of Science Fiction and Surrealism for the first time, this book is a definite choice. It held my attention from beginning to end. Haruki Murakami doesn't waste words, each word has it place and is necessary for his tale. The word pictures he paints make every page a reality in the surrealist world which he conveys to the reader. I read it both as an audiobook and in its hard cover format. He has whet my appetite for more of his books.
"Emperors New Clothes"
I know I am probably wrong but I just didn't think this was all that great. I didn't really get it although the story was okay it dragged a little and I didn't feel especially moved by it. A lot of people have raved about it and maybe I am too simple minded but it's all just a bit dull.
This is an interesting novel which is both thought provoking and enlightening. Murakami creates a non 'space age' type science fictionesque story with a refreshing twist.
The narration is very good and brings the characters to life.
The first audio book I've never finished, and I really tried.
I knew it was a 'slow burner' but this was tough. I managed 5hrs and actually began to dread having to sit on the tube and listen to another 30 minutes.
For those 5hrs the storyline never really shone through for me. The characters seemed well shaped and the narrators were fine, but the shear lack of pace or glimmer of something interesting killed it for me.
An amazing story! Very well narrated. The book is quite long but I really didn't want it to end. I didn't know anything about the book and was very surprised by the way the book unfolded.
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