Review: 1Q84 [一九ハ四]

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No matter what other people say, I still love Murakami’s work. I’m a fan (and there’s nothing you can do about it! lol).

His pattern is still there. Let me show you the Murakami bingo: descriptionby New York Times

But his works never fail to amuse me.

Tengo is a math teacher and an aspiring novelist. He is only working, however, behind the scenes as he is editing and being a ghost writer. Komatsu, his boss, asked him to rewrite Fuka-Eri’s novel because he sees potential in it. The book was about a religious sect and ‘small people’.

On the other hand, Aomame is a fitness instructor and an undercover assassin. She works for an enigmatic company and does whatever her boss the dowager orders her.

1Q84 is what Aomame calls the other world of 1984. She accidentally enters it and finds herself dealing with a controversial religious group (It was an occupational hazard, mind you). Meanwhile, Tengo is also drawn to the other world and calls it as the Cat town by juxtaposing this world to the story he read. Tengo and Aomame were classmates in primary school and got departed. After twenty years, they still like each other even if they don’t know where the other is.

1Q84 was derived from George Orwell’s 1984. “Q” is phonetically “kyu” which in Japanese, it means nine
[ 一九ハ四 (Ichi kyu hachi yon) = 1984]. It composes of three volumes. The first and second volumes contains the interchanging point of views by Tengo and Aomame. The third volume introduces another point of view, Ushikawa’s, an investigator.

I particularly like the third book. I like the investigation specially the chaseI really pity Ushikawa!! ( ; _ ; )/. And I very much like the love story, yeah, I’m a cheeser lol o(≧▽≦)o. The story is so long that it makes the love story exciting.

This novel was longlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize.

However, I have some criticisms.

First, it’s very repetitive, so I find myself reading things I read before over and over, and reading paraphrases regarding the same topic (see what I did there? haha).
I know it’s originally serialize but if the repetitive paragraphs are omitted, it would not be this long.

Second, in a feminist view, this will only get 1 or 2 stars. Women in the book were used as sex symbols or sex crave people like Aomame & Ayumi have the sudden urge of just wanting to have sex with men they don’t know; the girlfriend of Tengo, a married older woman, goes to Tengo just for sex; Eri & Kumi’s breasts, breasts, and breasts.
But it was shown that Aomame is a cool, intelligent and very skillful woman. Also, the dowager helps the battered women.

And lastly, the unnecessary things like: “Feeling a little hungry, she took out some Camembert, cut a wedge, and ate it with crackers. When the cheese was half gone, she washed a stalk of celery, spread it with mayonnaise, and munched it whole.” For several times, he even mention Tengo opening the refrigerator looking for wine.

But I learned to accept that Murakami’s works are very detailed. I know that it’s his style (and like it). I just want to put it here in my criticism part 🙂

View all my reviews


5 thoughts on “Review: 1Q84 [一九ハ四]

  1. alexcmcglenn says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve seen this book around and was intrigued but never picked it up. Think I’ll give it a pass considering how many other books I have crowding my bookshelves.

    • phoibee says:

      Thanks for reading. 🙂
      If it’s your first time reading Murakami, I think you should start with his lighter works (short stories) first. This book requires a lot of time because of dragging repetitive narration.

      • phoibee says:

        I would recommend “The Elephant Vanishes” or “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” for short stories collection; “After Dark” for a light novel.

        Some people I know read his heavy novels first and did not like to try reading his works again. I just think that if you start with the light ones, you will know if you like his style and theme, then proceed with the other ones, more of that theme.

        Well, everyone is different, so I don’t know maybe you will like the heavy novels immediately 🙂

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