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Despite having heard of Murakami, I hadn’t read any of his work until 1Q84 this year. It’s one I would definitely recommend if you want something unique, well-written and captivating to read.
We are introduced to a few key characters, namely Aomame, Tengo, Komatsu and Fuka-Eri, with numerous others making appearances throughout. It’s Tokyo 1984; Aomame is on the expressway and somehow, at some point, the balance of reality seems to have shifted slightly. She doesn’t know how and can not explain it, but suddenly she sees 2 moons in the sky. Meanwhile, a young girl, Fuka-Eri, gets help from Tengo to write a novel of little people and air chrysalis, a tale of a strange world that seems once published, sets the literary world on fire. But something strange is underfoot. The characters are linked somehow, and events are linked also, somehow, but we do not see what is really happening. The transformation of reality in to something else, a new world nicknamed ‘1Q84’, is something we learn about in a piecemeal fashion throughout books 1 and 2.
The premise isn’t one I can really describe easily. It doesn’t really make much sense and there’s nothing tangible I can write without it sending crazy or giving too much away. This really is one you would need to read to understand and grasp what it’s actually about.
The style is also interesting. The chapters take the bird’s eye view of different tangents, one for the character Aomame and the other for Tengo. Through seeing the events unfolding around these characters, we’re almost seeing two sides of the same coin and getting a little more information each time.
There is a sense of the novel being mesmerising, gripping, absorbing, like transporting you to another world. It’s magical and wonderful and strange; you want to keep reading to learn more. Yet, at the same time, it still feels reasonably grounded. It made me curious and transported me away from the mundane, yet kept me believing it was real. I don’t usually like unfinished endings but this was done with purpose as I felt I needed Book 3 ASAP!
The characters themselves are quite well depicted, being sculpted in a way that made them easier to imagine. I enjoyed learning about them and felt like I cared what happened to them. Small details are captured, nuances are noted and original terminology is applied, all to make reading the novel even more captivating.
Granted, the premise is rather odd. I found the pace reasonably so-so. Some may find it a little on the slow side, however I quite enjoyed some of the slower moments. It gave me time to appreciate the scenery, if you like. I didn’t find myself getting bored at any point, so I found the tempo suitable. I couldn’t guess the outcome of the novel, in book 1 or book 2. It was so original that it could have only been borne from the author’s imagination.