Review: 1Q84

Well, I’m happy it’s over. But please, don’t get me wrong, I honestly did enjoy reading this, but it will be one of the last 1,000 pagers I read for some time.  Boiled down, it is a nice “love story” with out there fantasy and magical elements to it. But…also plenty of ridiculousness as well. And, I admit to growing quite fatigued, with hints of boredom beginning to creep in. It felt more like a full time job having to devote this much time to one story.

What I Did Enjoy:

  1. Aomame: She had hints of Lisbeth Salander.
  2. The Dowager: I liked this woman: she’s in her 70s taking care of business, giving respite to battered women and being the Queen Organizer for ridding the world of worthless abusive men.
  3. the interconnectivity of many things mentioned throughout the book, for instance Tengo would be reading a novel, and then you would find the Tamaru discussing the same book and author in his conversation with Aomame. Or Tengo reading a book about a place to Fuka Eri and later you find that this is where Tamaru was raised. They are entirely separate, yet connected in so many ways.
  4. It was “easy” to read, and was a good story.

What I did Not enjoy:

  1. Way.Too.Long. Fatigue and frustration were abundant towards the end. It was a considerable investment of time to make, making me anxious to end rather than enjoy.
  2. WAY too much mention of sex and sex organs. All in silly and inappropriate parts. There was no escape from it, most notably in Book 1. The excrutiatingly bad descriptions of sex, sex organs, pubic hair, size, shape, colour, etc. It came in to conversation far too often and in far too many inappropriate parts. Most cases, it had NO business being said. Seriously. I understand it was nominated or a serious contender for winning Worst Sex Scene, but in my opinion, that needs to be pluralized. Inserting talk about stroking scrotums in the last sentence of a paragraph where stroking a scrotum was so completely unnecessary was a major turn off.
  3. Some of his comparisons were ridiculous, “it was out of place like a centipede in yogurt.” What? There is another in there about feeling tension in your female organs and stirring hot cocoa but I can’t remember that precisely enough to quote it here. You may get the idea though…
  4. Repetitive. Many times I had to look at what page I was on to make sure I didn’t hit the back button by accident. Entire sections felt as though they were repeated in following chapters. Liberal skipping of pages taking place by this point. Most especially in Book 3.
  5. Far too much time spent on frivolous details about Ushikawa and his quest in Book 3. I was so fatigued (and becoming bored) by this point that I did even more liberal scanning/skipping of pages. Because by this point I could care less about Ushikawa and his life, all chapters devoted to him could easily have been edited right out and not make a fig of difference to the story because I was only anxious to:
  6. JUST PUT TENGO AND AOMAME TOGETHER ALREADY!!!
  7. The end was shaping up nicely, and then Murakami puts this in there, and just about causes me to throw the e-reader out the window. It is the part where Aomame is remembering her two lost friends in the world:

Aomame thought again of Tamaki. She remembered her smooth, beautifully shaped breasts. So different from my own underdeveloped chest, she thought. But those beautiful breasts are now gone forever. She thought of Ayumi Nakano…She had beautiful breasts as well. Aomame mourned the deaths of these two friends deeply. It saddened her to think that these women were forever gone from the world. And she mourned their lovely breasts – breasts that had vanished without a trace.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That just about did me in! When mourning a lost best friend, the very last thing I mourn about is their breasts! I don’t even give them thought!!!!!!!!!!

Overall, I did enjoy it, but was it something that rocked my world or changed my life? Not really. Because if I have to repeat myself, I’m just glad it’s done. I feel like perhaps I should get a prize. And it bothers me to say that, because it was a very enjoyable story! It was just way too long and with moments of ridiculousness (as above!) and added many unnecessary elements in the end. 3.5 stars.

Upon reflection this morning, I realized this book strongly reminds me of Big Machine, by Lavalle: . It held many of the same elements: religion, Leader(s), fantasy, “little”, or “different people”, etc.

I also realized that these two books something I was “challenged” to read. Oprah suggested Big Machine (from a survey I took) and when reading the description it was nothing that I would normally pick up. As well, with 1Q84, it was the Opinionless Online Book Club that put the challenge out to read Murakami’s 1Q84. Again, nothing I would ever have considered. And although I can say I enjoyed reading them, I think my original hesitation in reading this style, or genre, remains. It will take a great deal of convincing me to pick another book from this genre again in the near future.

In the end, you may wish to read Big Machine (it’s way shorter too!):

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3 thoughts on “Review: 1Q84

  1. I have to admit, after your review, I’m not as keen to read this anymore! The few quotes you pulled out made me wonder why this is considered good writing. I thought, maybe it’s the translation? (Is this written in Eng. or translated?) Maybe there was something lost in translation. But ugh, all that sex puts me off, too. Not that I’m against sex in books, but an author’s preoccupation really does drive me crazy. It’s why I couldn’t finish John Irving’s A Widow for One Year.

    1Q84 sounds like it needed better editing. I’m still curious, particularly about the reference it makes to 1984, but I’m less so after your review. Don’t feel bad about that! You raised good points. I prefer short fiction, short stories in particular, anyway. 🙂

    • Hey Steph, I know, I know, I had heard so much about this book! And it’s a beautiful book too! This is the first Murakami I have read as well – apparently the others are much better. But honestly, all of that ridiculous sex talk/descriptions (it wasn’t even well done!!) could have been removed – it was too distracting and silly. The story itself was good, and I did enjoy it, but honestly, “mourning breasts”?? Sigh. Not too much about 1984 in there at all, just that it’s the year the story takes place but they all enter this other 1984, or the 1Q84. Not too many “pop culture” references that popped out to me. I feel bad because I think my review has turned some people off from it. 😦

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 - Opinionless

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