Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I just finished reading 1Q84, Haruki Murakami's latest. It was really not very good! Not good at all! It shocked me, because I've loved almost all of the books of his that I've read so far. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles was absolutely amazing, for example.  But this--I was disappointed.

Here's my quick plot review. It's a little spoiler-y (no end-of-the-book spoilers, but some mid-book ones), so you're warned:

Tengo and Aomame met when they were ten, and then were separated. They've been basically in love with each other ever since, even as they've gone on to get jobs, sleep with other people, etc. Now they're 30, and it's 1984. Tengo is a math instructor, and just ghost-wrote a novel created by this strange seventeen-year-old girl. Aomame, besides teaching at a gym, kills abusive men in a way that makes it look like they've died of natural causes.

Both of them have somehow been transported to another version of our world, one slightly off.  Aomame names it 1Q84.  This world has something to do with Fuka-Eri (the seventeen-year-old writer) and her novel, which turns out to be true.  1Q84 has two moons, and historic events aren't quite the same.  Most importantly, it has "Little People," tiny beings that remind me of faeries (the mischievous, dangerous type). Little People crawl into the world out of dead things' mouths, and somehow control events. There's a cult built around them, a cult led by Fuka-Eri's father, who Aomame gets assigned to kill.

We'll leave it there.

I have no problem with fantasy, or even a sort of magical-realism half-fantasy.  So the Little People, the two moons, etc., were not an issue for me. What I hated was the writing itself. It was repetitive.  Like, OKAY, I've got it, Aomame is in perfect health and very fit, but is insecure about her breasts.  (I feel like writing to Haruki Murakami and saying "No real woman thinks about breasts this much!")  And I've got it, Fuka-Eri has a strange way of talking.  Every little point was just beat to death, and taken incredibly seriously.

The very beginning of the book follows Aomame as she kills a man.  It struck me as almost a typical action-y novel where the protagonist is unrealistically perfect and hot, and we never really learn what makes them tick, and they do all this bad-ass stuff.  I didn't have that impression for the whole book, but I will say, I never warmed to Aomame, and I never really felt like I understood her or Tengo.  I was told why they felt certain things (told many times) but it never felt true.

I could say lots more, but there's no need. The point is, I just read a 900-page book out of a mix of stubbornness and confusion (confusion because I've loved his other books so much).  I don't recommend it.

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