The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.
As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.
I feel like I’ve committed some great literary sin by only giving this trilogy two stars. Indeed, I find it difficult to review literary fiction books, because if I give a low rating, I feel like I just wasn’t smart enough to understand or appreciate it.
But alas, this just didn’t live up to my high expectations.
Make no mistake, Murakami has created an expansive, imaginative parallel world, but the writing is so dense, so clinical, so overly detailed, that it was an arduous trek to try finish this 1300 page trilogy.
And can I just point out that the sex scenes are absolutely cringeworthy. The author was nominated for a bad sex award for one of his latest novels, and it’s unfortunately well deserved. Lots of emphasis on size and shape and pubes and boobs.
I’ll just leave this here:
If his erection had been a movie, it would have been low budget, straight to video. Not an erection even worth discussing. Most likely. ‘Maybe I’m fated to drift through life with nothing but second rate erections,’ he asked himself, ‘or not even second rate ones? That would be a sad sort of life, like a prolonged twilight.’
For those easily triggered, please be aware that this book contains mentions of rape, child abuse and sexual violence.
I went into the book expecting some kind of wonderful adult dystopia/magical realism, and while there are elements of the unexplainable and imaginative supernatural, it didn’t make up for the achingly slow pace.