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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicate story despite the size
The "1Q84" trilogy is, without doubt, an impressive book. In many ways, the trilogy almost has to be read in this way as the three component books make little sense on their own. The first book in the series in particular is almost completely baffling if taken in isolation. It does, though, demand a degree of dedication, and if the prospect of a 1300 page novel in which...
Published 20 months ago by Ripple

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What am I to make of this?
I have never read anything by Murakami before, and perhaps this was a mistake before grappling with this doorstop of a novel, running to over 1300 pages in the paperback version I read.
'Grappling' may not be the correct word because I read the whole thing and read it quite easily, it is not unreadable as such but it is certainly overlong and baffling.
I may be...
Published 3 months ago by N. Byrne


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicate story despite the size, 4 Aug. 2013
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 (Paperback)
The "1Q84" trilogy is, without doubt, an impressive book. In many ways, the trilogy almost has to be read in this way as the three component books make little sense on their own. The first book in the series in particular is almost completely baffling if taken in isolation. It does, though, demand a degree of dedication, and if the prospect of a 1300 page novel in which not a huge amount happens in terms of plot and in which there is a significant level of repetition leaves you cold, then this might not be the best entry point into the wonderful world of Haruki Murakami. As often with Murakami though, it's possible to read this book at a number of levels. On the surface it's a love story set in a slightly fantastical setting with a little bit of crime thrown in. At a deeper level, he explores the this lines between imagination and reality, life and death and what you might call yin and yang. It's a novel where balance and vacuums play a big part. It seems counter-intuitive to call a book of this magnitude "delicate", but that's just how the story appears.

The first two books consist of alternating chapters on the lives of two people, fitness instructor Aomame and maths teacher and struggling novelist Tengo, who we subsequently learn have more of a connection than we at first think. Incidentally, apparently Aomame translates as "green beans" in Japanese which is one of the few areas in which the English translation of this story misses out on a beautiful quality of the original. In fact, it's worth noting that the third book has a different translator to the first two, but you would never notice. The third book introduces the perspective of another character, the shifty Ushikawa, and if I have one criticism of the book it is that this third perspective does rather slow down the already stately pace of the book as for much of the first half he merely repeats knowledge that we already know about the back stories of Aomame and Tengo.

"1Q84" might also creep into the genre of dystopian fiction but in a light way. The book starts of in 1984 but while Aomame doesn't initially notice any changes, an event soon takes her into an alternate reality, hence "1Q84" where the only clear give away is that there are two moons in the sky rather than the traditional mono-lunar normality.

Aomame and Tengo are both involved in a secret sideline, and both are likely to land them in a whole heap of trouble. Although there are hints that the two stories go together, it's not really until about half way through the second book that the knowledge of each other becomes clear to the reader. In fact, it is this point on the book, around half way through, that the book moves from being intriguing to being downright clever and, at one level, quite deep.

While I haven't read a huge amount of Japanese fiction, I think of Murakami as being quintessentially Japanese. The Western reader is always aware of that slight cultural disconnect and sense of Eastern mysticalness. What makes this book unusual therefore is the heavy allusions to a raft of Western literature. The title itself of course brings to mind Orwell, but there are explicit and implicit references to works ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Chekhov via Shakespeare.

Although if you are new to Murakami, I might suggest starting at some of his earlier works, although long, this is always accessible. One note of caution though would be that, as fans of Murakami know, he is not shy of the odd sex scene and here there is a slightly uncomfortable element of pedophilia that might cause offence to some. It's not as entirely clear cut as all that but to reveal why would involve an element of spoiler revelation, but there are moments when it is slightly uncomfortable shall we say?

It is without doubt a superbly clever and well constructed book and, as always with Murakami, there is a certain charm and beauty to the story. Aomame, in particular, is hard not to like for all her quirks and dubious actions. If you've never read Murakami, you should, and you should probably start with something like "Norwegian Wood". If you are already a convert though, this is a joy and will have you checking the night sky just to be sure.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, with a few small reservations, 6 Feb. 2012
By 
southcoastreviewer (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: 1Q84 (Unabridged) (Audio Download)
Firstly, can I point out that this is the first of Murakami's works that I have read. I purchased the Audible book through my subscription when this came out in a recommended list, and liked the look of the story. Part way through, I came on here and looked at some of the existing reviews and apparently this is not a great introduction to Murakami's depth and style. It is frequently recommended that "newbies" try Kafka On The Shore. I still found 1Q84 satisfying, and will definitely move on to other works. But if you're finding it a slog, try the recommended alternative.

AUDIBLE-RELEVANT REVIEW CONTENT:

There seems to be mixed to poor opinion of the narration in this from Allison Hiroto, who portays the significant role of Aomame. A lot find that she is too quiet or meek. I am of the opinion that the quiet, calm, measured and precise nature of her voice fits in perfectly with the way the character Aomame is portrayed. She is rarely flustered and always exudes a calm exterior. The narration by Hiroto lends itself to this perfectly, as does the gravelly Mark Boyett for the quasimodo-esque investigator Ushikawa.

GENERAL PLOT AND CHARACTERISATION:

1Q84 is a long, carefully crafted masterpiece of a novel. It is delicate and unique, much like the characters it portrays. The depth of detail is sometimes off-putting, and I can imagine that, were I not forced to hear each word in the unabridged audio edition of this, I would have ended up skimming a lot of it. Do not. There is beauty in the detail. It would seem that a lot of the time Murakami is unnecessarily repeating details and descriptions, but when something in 1Q84 changes, because of this repetition, the reader becomes aware immediately. Almost like a revelation.

It did admittedly become annoying to keep on hearing (or reading) "Do you understand" ... "I think so". They're clearly all very unsure of themselves!

In terms of the characterisation as well, every main character is brutally scrutinised down to the smallest detail.

I was therefore left very annoyed with the lose threads at the end. Not the chrysalis threads - that area of the story was tied up for me neatly. But there were a number of main characters built up that I would have liked some closure on how their stories were completed. Fuka-Eri, for example.

In order to read and enjoy 1Q84 you have to leave a little bit of reality behind before you open the book. There are references in here to, and more than a little nod towards, Alice in Wonderland. If you try to be reality-critical, you will not enjoy this novel. If you do not like thinking behind the story, you will not enjoy this.

1Q84 is essentially a love story. But it is so much more, and so beautiful, that I can ignore its general faults in the repetition and style, and the open endings on some of the characters. I will still read this again, and again, and again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read if you already love Murakami, 28 Nov. 2012
By 
Marie (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 (Paperback)
I was enjoying this trilogy so much that I eked out the reading experience as much as possible. I left a fairly long gap in between books two and three simply because I didn't want it to end, which goes to show just how much I liked it.

The novel finds us in Tokyo in 1984, where Aomame is living a double life. To the outside world she is a solitary but pleasant gym instructor, but in her spare time she works as an assassin, killing men who have been violent towards women. A bizarre encounter with a taxi driver serves as a catalyst for a sequence of unusual events that lead her to feel that something about the world around her has intrinsically changed, and this feeling intensifies when she notices a new, second moon in the sky.

Meanwhile, across town, Tengo is an aspiring author who gets an offer he can't refuse: to re-write a debut novel by the peculiar teenage Fuka-Eri in order to give it enough polish that it might become a literary bestseller. As he gets drawn further into Fuka-Eri's surreal yet captivating fictional environment, he too begins to think that the real world he is living in is not quite as it was before. Unbeknown to each other, Aomame and Tengo's lives become linked as they both get more and more involved in the curious world of 1Q84.

Much of this book represents business as usual for Murakami and his brand of magical realism. There is something enchanting about the way in which he takes ordinary, unremarkable characters and transplants them into extraordinary settings. But I especially loved the eccentric supporting cast he created here - the sinister gangsters Buzzcut & Ponytail, repulsive private investigator Ushikawa, beautiful Fuka-Eri who manages to be enigmatic and socially awkward in equal measures. Every single person who appears in the book is vividly drawn and perfectly pitched, and each sub-plot is as engrossing as the next. I really enjoyed reading about Tengo's strained relationship with his father, about the dowager's personal crusade against violent men, and about the shady cultish commune of Sakigake.

The only real criticism I have is that it is just a touch too long. As I mentioned above, I took a break between books two and three and when I returned to it I found myself growing impatient - there's a good 150 pages or so where very little happens, and I did feel that a lot of it was covering old ground. However, when you consider the delay between books two and three being published in Japan, this becomes a bit more understandable. And just as I was really starting to become disillusioned everything picked up again for the wonderful ending (which really did tug at my heart strings, and I am not usually a soppy reader).

What you really need to know is this: if you're already a Murakami convert, you'll adore this book. If you are new to his work, this probably isn't the easiest place to start. I don't know if 1Q84 has the same special place in my heart as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle but it definitely comes close.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the moon out tonight?, 15 July 2012
By 
Dick Johnson (Texas USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 (Paperback)
Aomame and Tengo grow apart as they grow up. The story is about whether they will ever grow together; or whether something(s) will keep that from happening. We spend the book with them as they grow old enough to cause an ending to actually take place; or, perhaps, another beginning.

With a limited number of characters (just enough to work, not so many to get in the way), the author weaves his own brand of magic into their lives. Nor surprisingly, the readers are allowed to join in on the magic. We get to sense what they do. We get to believe what they do. Or not believe it at all. Regardless, we get to go on a lengthy journey of thoughts and dreams.

Are their events ones that remind us of the world of a little more than a quarter of a century ago? Are their events ones that remind us of today? Yes. And, yes. But, which events are they and do they apply to us in any way similar to how they affected Aomame and Tengo? It will probably take longer to answer that for myself than it took me to read the book.

I don't always understand Haruke Murakami. But, it may be that he wants us to take from each of his books that which we want. Though I always hope for more insight into what he means, I keep reading them because they always give my brain a wonderful sort of exercise. This was well worth the effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What am I to make of this?, 4 Dec. 2014
By 
N. Byrne (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 (Paperback)
I have never read anything by Murakami before, and perhaps this was a mistake before grappling with this doorstop of a novel, running to over 1300 pages in the paperback version I read.
'Grappling' may not be the correct word because I read the whole thing and read it quite easily, it is not unreadable as such but it is certainly overlong and baffling.
I may be baffled because I haven't read any of Murakami's other books, or because I couldn't see the point he was trying to make, if any, with this alternative world with two moons and 'Little People' and religious cults and enchanting zombie-like 17 year olds with magnificent breasts who write baffling best sellers... Am I supposed to make anything of it or am I on a fundamental level supposed to enjoy a novel?
At its heart '1Q84' is a love story about two lost and lonely people who are trying to find each other after 20 years, and in its best parts the novel's passages about the intensity of this love and the yearning both characters feel is movingly evoked. Although it takes a while to get there.
But did it need to be so long? I found this novel stuffed full of superfluous details: the details of the characters' sex lives, what exactly they are having for dinner, what exactly they are wearing. The mundane details of everyday living are pedantically described at length. I think this novel would have been half as long certainly, and any number of times better if this superfluity had been removed.
Perhaps in the original Japanese Murakami's style is more charming or enchanting but I think something has definitely been lost in translation because in English it smacks of pedantry and an author's ego going unchecked. And plain bad writing, if I may be so bold: 'It was like his head was was filled with frozen lettuce', a nice simile I'm sure, but Murakami goes on: 'There must be some people who don't know you're not supposed to freeze lettuce. Once lettuce has been frozen, it loses all its crispness- which for lettuce is surely it's best characteristic'. If anybody wrote that in a creative writing class they would be laughed out the door. I confess I nearly threw this novel out the door when I read the above quote, but I was over 1100 pages in at this point so I wasn't giving up. I didn't give up when the two moons and the Little People appear, when in other words the alternative world appears. This 'science-fiction' or magic or 'unrealism' theme was for me the weakest part of the novel, it was unnecessary and parts of it, especially the Little People were just ridiculous when it presumably was supposed to be its main symbolic frame. A much better novel could have emerged simply from our own 'real' world without all this metaphysical jiggery-pokery. I didn't give up at the 'immaculate conception' but I know plenty of intelligent cultured people who would have curled their lip and tossed this book aside at any number of points. Is it the references to classical music, Orwell, Chekhov, Proust etc that merits the glowing praise on the cover of the book from serious reviewers? Or is it just an over long pretentious mildly diverting love story that loses the run of itself, creates a monster or a 'little person' it can't control? I don't know and frankly I don't care, and I would advise anyone thinking of reading this novel not to bother. It's too long and life is too short and is about as rewarding as on of those sliding platform coin machines at an arcade.
But, I read it all, so I can't give it 2 stars like I think I should but have to give it 3. It's 'OK'. Some nice touches, nice imagery, a slightly moving love story but little else. 'OK' doesn't deserve the praise and attention this book has garnered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jehovah's Witness in Wonderland, 26 Jan. 2014
By 
M. D. Holley (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: 1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 (Paperback)
This is very special. I even dreamt about it. It utterly possessed me. It is wondrous, magical and compelling. I don't know where to start... From the first page, I felt it was different. I have not loved a novel so much for at least 10 years. It is the discovery of the year for me, maybe the decade.

Murakami has an incredibly vivid imagination. I never knew where he would take us next - he is totally unpredictable. The form and design of the work is ingenious, clever and disciplined - like the finale of Mozart's Jupiter symphony where all the little pieces of the jigsaw gradually fit together like magic. And like certain pieces of music (for example the finale of Act 2 of The Marriage of Figaro), the author's fertile imagination keeps it going on and on endlessly, better and better, as if time is suspended, in a way that takes the breath away. Some have complained 1Q84 is too long, but I felt there was not a word out of place - everything is deftly calculated and in exactly the right place, and it is perfectly proportioned. The last chapter felt exactly right, rounding the novel off perfectly while being emotionally and intellectually so very satisfying.

It is odd how different authors sometimes independently catch a particular concept, perhaps reflecting the prevailing 'zeitgeist'. I recently read 'The Day' by Rachel Walsh, which includes several slightly surreal short stories inspired by the organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Murakami takes a similar idea further, into 'Alice in Wonderland' territory. The Sakigake religion, the dark heart of the 1Q84 world, seems clearly inspired by the organisation of Jehovah's Witness in the real 1984 world. Both Walsh and Murakami point up the parallels with totalitarian communism.

I hope none of what I have written gives the impression that this is an overly arty or intellectual book. Far from it, it is quite a page turner, a thriller with a big love story at its heart.

This was my first introduction to Murakami (it was recommended by a friend who had just read 'The Day') - but it won't be my last.

Read this - you owe it to yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A world inside a world...., 2 Feb. 2014
By 
Alexei V. Lopez Enriquez (Mexico) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 (Paperback)
Unlike many of Murakami's books, 1Q84 offers a round, classical treatment of the story it presents. In this sense, this piece of work differs from previous ones in that it bestows on the reader an "end", much more defined and less uncertain than the ones in other of his books. Once again the Japanese writer shows how profound and accurate his mastery of the form "novel" is: he does know how to create suspense, interest and he also knows how to create a need for information. In addition to this he knows exactly when to deliver pieces of the jigsaw that the reader so longs for. At times bordering the postmodern kind of literature, the author introduces the reader into a 1984 (the rise of the modern society, after the students' demonstrations and protests' period) Japan. After too little a time (the first three chapters) one of the main characters' world comes to question: what is then, reality? A world inside another world, of whose implications in the life of the main characters only the reader could discover as he unfolds the pages. 1Q84 offers a classical end wrapped in an uncertainty for the future of the characters. The construction of the chapters is superb -he carefully knits the relation between one and the other by controlling the information that the reader receives in each. One of the best contemporary books of the decade.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form, 21 Mar. 2012
By 
This review is from: 1Q84: Book 1, 2 and 3 (Hardcover)
I'm a fan of quite a lot of Murakami's earlier work, but I don't consider myself to be uncritically admiring of him - and I've been disappointed by his more recent output ("After Dark" and "Kafka on the Shore" didn't work for me). So I'm pleased to say that IQ84 is something of a return to form as far as I'm concerned, although I have some reservations about it - and if you are new to Murakami, I wouldn't advise you to start with this one. There are plenty of interesting ideas here and I liked the way that all the protagonists find themselves in morally ambiguous territory. That said, I found it was too long - and it was hard to feel entirely satisfied with it at the end. But overall, I'm pleased that Murakami still seems to be able to write fiction which is thought-provoking and ambitious, as I had begun to wonder if he'd gone off the boil.

For a longer review which explains in more detail what I liked (and didn't like), see my website, which you can access from my profile page (sadly, Amazon won't let me put in a hyperlink). Click on "Blog" and then type "IQ84" into the search box.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And Haruki is most probably the best representative of literature that gives so much to individual ..., 29 Nov. 2014
By 
Andrej Drapal (Ljubljana, Slovenia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 (Paperback)
My personal opinion about this book and Haruki is, that the only reason he did not receive Nobel Prize yes is the fact, that he does not mix literature with social activism. Nobel Prize commitee is obsessed by literature that puts more on political, social and economical progressivists propaganda than on pure literature. Pure literature is conservative. Beauty and conservativism are two sides of the same coin. And Haruki is most probably the best representative of literature that gives so much to individual and so little to society. He must be despised by collectivists. He is adored by individualists. When we cease to bluff ourselves, we are all individualists. So...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely books, although to call it a boxed set is slightly misleading, 22 Nov. 2012
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The books themselves are lovely, with attractive covers and printed on quality paper, but to call this a boxed set is slightly misleading as the 'box' is just a thin, flimsy plastic folding thing, that resembles packaging rather than something you would want to keep on your bookshelf. Plus, the inner flap where the box is folded in tends to get in the way when you're trying to squeeze all three books into it, which might lead to some bent pages(!), if you care about that sort of thing. I wouldn't say I'm unhappy with my purchase, however, the books themselves are worth it and much more practical for my commute than a single volume.
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1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3
1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 by Haruki Murakami (Paperback - 2 Aug. 2012)
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