1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

I picked up this novel because it has appeared on a bunch of best-seller lists, but I clearly did not pay attention to the details. 1Q84 is an extraordinary work of fiction, but word of warning...it is 946 pages long! So only pick it up if you are willing to spend some time with it. It is not a quick read.

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer who has a very interesting writing style. It is very different from any other author I have ever read. To read this story, you have to be willing to jump into the world created by Murakami with no reservations. If you are not a fiction lover, don't bother picking up this book. There are several things that happen in this book that surprised me and left me asking, "What?" or "How is that even possible?" There are several twists and turns in this story - many of them requiring a lapse in logic and reason. Many parallels have been drawn between 1Q84 and George Orwell's novel, 1984. I can't comment on that as I have regrettably not read Orwell's novel. It is on my "to read" list. I just haven't gotten to it yet.

It is hard to summarize the story because it is so intricate and detailed, but I will try to give a general synopsis of the story. There are two main characters in the book - Tengo and Aomame. These characters met back in elementary school when they were in the same class for two years in a row. Both of them lead less then ideal childhoods, and shared a brief encounter at the age of 10 that had a profound effect on both of them. However, when Aomame transfers schools, Tengo never sees Aomame again. The two characters spend the next 20 years thinking about the other, and wondering how their lives might have been different if they had had the courage to act on their connection. Tengo becomes a Math teacher and aspiring fiction writer, while Aomame becomes a fitness trainer and a trained assassin. Through a series of events, Tengo and Aomame find themselves transported from the normal world of 1984, to the world of 1Q84. Aomame calls this world 1Q84 to distinguish it from the "real world" of 1984. The two worlds are very much the same, with the biggest difference being the number of moons. In the 1Q84 there are two moons - the normal moon and a smaller green moon. Aomame and Tengo have been sent to this world in order to find each other, however their are forces working against them who are trying to prevent this.

I enjoyed the book, but it took me a long time to get through it. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character - most often switching between Tengo and Aomame. I think this kept the story from slowing down and dragging out, which easily could have happened if told as a straight narrative. It also allowed the reader to see how the different events in each of the character's lives was moving them closer and closer together. It surprised me to realize that this story is actually a love story. There is so much going on in this novel that it is easy to miss it at first. I don't know if that was the intention of the author, but at the heart of this story is the connection between Tengo and Aomame and their search to find each other after 20 years. I was hoping for more at the end of the story. I feel like there were several loose ends and unanswered questions. However, even though the ending is a little lack luster for me, 1Q84 is worth the read.

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