Ruby Tombstone [With A Vengeance]'s Reviews > 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
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Jun 21, 12

bookshelves: littry-fikshun, youre-living-in-a-fantasy-man, east-and-south-east-asia, striking-design
Read from November 19 to December 31, 2011 — I own a copy

NOTE: There is a lengthier review to come as I have a lot to say about this book. I made copious notes while reading it, but it may take a little while to review them as I recorded them on a Kindle. Apparently the Kindle developers weren't made aware that people might actually want to one day retrieve, organise or in any way whatsoever utilise the notes they take. It's an easy mistake to make. If you're Amazon.

In the meantime, I'll say that 1Q84 is a good book, if not a truly great one. It's by far the most accessible and the most structured Murakami book I've come across. It was by no means a difficult read, and the chapters were short, tight and well edited. At times, however, I suspected those elements to be part of a very clever, very cynical marketing approach designed to target mainstream English-speaking audiences. Make no mistake, the marketing approach for this book worked - 1Q84 broke all sorts of records before it had even been released. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since we have this book to thank (at least in part) for a recent resurgence in the popularity of "real" paper-and-ink books. I did feel that the pandering was excessive though, and it came at the price of losing that intangible quality that makes Murakami's other books so enjoyable.

I should also point out that I was lucky enough to have the beautiful hardcover omnibus edition of all three books. The attention to detail in this edition is amazing, right down to the fonts and page numbering. I would highly recommend getting your hands on a copy if you're in any way unsure why people still read paper-and-ink books. My boyfriend earned big points for that birthday present. The other good thing about having this edition is that, unlike Japanese readers, I knew going into it that I would be making a 1,000 page commitment, and that the story would be in 3 parts. The latter is important, as I would be writing a very different review had I read Books 1&2 only. Knowing at the end of Book 2 that there is another part to the story makes all the difference in the world as to your understanding of the plot.... and that's all I'm going to say on that point.

Prior to reading 1Q84, I came across an interesting article in The Guardian in which Murakami says the book is "a riff on Orwell's 1984". I took this information seriously, going so far as to read 1984 immediately beforehand so that no reference would go unnoticed. Let me make it absolutely clear that Murakami's 1Q84 has very little (if anything at all) to do with 1984. In a handful of places throughout 1Q84, Murakami makes direct reference to Orwell's 1984, with one of his characters remarking that their present situation really is just like that book by George Orwell, but that really is it. What particularly annoyed me was that Murakami did not appear to have fully understood, or possibly even read 1984. The 1984 references were blunt, cliched statements about Big Brother or doublespeak, which didn't actually apply to the situations at hand anyway. Given the fact that I didn't even really enjoy reading Orwell's 1984 to begin with, I was understandably miffed.

For now, let me be absolutely clear that I would happily recommend Murakami's 1Q84. It just doesn't quite live up to the hype. But then, that's the problem with hype, isn't it?

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Reading Progress

11/19/2011 page 5
1.0% "I'm trying to decipher whether the reversals of page numbers and titles on the different pages mean anything. Is there a pattern, or is this random? Hmmm....."
11/21/2011 page 43
5.0% "The hardcopy is super-interactive. Murakami has added a few clues in bold. Also, I'm noting down the direction of the page numbers and at which points they reverse. I strongly suspect these are clues too. Fun!"
11/22/2011 page 63
7.0% "I love that each chapter of this book feels like a short story on its own merits. It's beautifully structured."
11/29/2011 page 309
33.0% "I FINISHED BOOK ONE! Sorry, but in a 925 page tome, I feel like this is an achievement worth shouting about :)"
11/29/2011 page 309
33.0% "I've taken a small break between books one and two, but I'm itching to get back into it. It's one of the few books that I have found myself speculating on the plot: What does X mean? Is Y really Z? This is not like me at all!"
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