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1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3 Paperback – 5 Apr 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846556694
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846556692
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 262,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Critics have variously likened him to Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, Arthur C. Clarke, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis and Thomas Pynchon - a roster so ill assorted as to suggest Murakami is in fact an original" (New York Times)

Book Description

A mesmerising, epic, utterly involving masterpiece from Haruki Murakami

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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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