Megha's Reviews > 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
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Mar 18, 12

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Read in November, 2011


If you aren't already enamored with Murakami's writing, I recommend not reading 1Q84 - unless what you want is a treasure hunt for some simple Japanese recipes. 1Q84 is actually a test to see how much Murakami fans are willing to put up with. And the test is a tough one.

The first part of the book is nothing short of what you expect from Murakami. But towards the middle it really begins to sag with tedious, mundane descriptions. One reviewer called it memory-insultingly repetitive and that's not entirely wrong. (To be fair the repetitiveness is due to combining all the three books in a single volume in the English edition. But if they published it as one book, that's how people are going to read it.) Then there are numerous badly written sex scenes. So far, in his other books, I have been giving him a pass for those. But this time I couldn't help being annoyed. You know how when a new characters enters the scene, some authors would describe his/her countenance. Likewise, every time Murakami introduces a female character in 1Q84, he describes her breasts. What's up with that?!

And yet I have slapped four stars up there. Clearly the man can do no wrong by me. I don't usually keep track of what books are going to be released soon. This is the only book I have ever pre-ordered. This is the only hardcover I own, because I did not want to wait till the paperback was out. I even carried this monster of a book on a flight because I did not want to put it on a hiatus while I was out of town.

There is almost 1000 pages - that's plenty of room for the good and the bad. Tedious portions notwithstanding, what Murakami does best is still somewhere in there. And I am willing to forgive the rest.
The world with the two moons is absolutely fascinating and full of intrigue. Despite the complicated plot and multiple threads, he writes with superb clarity and never leaves the reader lost and confused. The last part of the book has us following three intersecting story lines. Ushikawa, Aomame and Tengo are all looking at the same picture, but at different angles. Each one of them is trying to fill in the pieces outside their respective field of vision. And it all comes together very elegantly in the end.

And that brings me to David Mitchell. Last year I had swooned all over Cloud Atlas. Since reading 1Q84, I find myself agreeing more and more with the reviews that call it pretentious, gimmicky and what not. Because compared to the way Murakami handles multiple stories, Mitchell does seem to be trying too hard. In any case, I did enjoy Cloud Atlas when I had read it and nothing is going to change that now. So no hard feelings, DM.
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Reading Progress

11/13/2011 page 620
67.0%

Comments (showing 1-50 of 86) (86 new)


message 1: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Clausen Please let me know how this one turns out. I've been eyeing this book for a while.


Megha Hi Daniel, I am enjoying it quite a bit so far. But I have to say it can be slow and full with uninteresting details in some places. One needs to be forgiving towards Murakami (which I am) to get through those tedious bits.


message 3: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Clausen I understand what you mean.


message 4: by William1 (new)

William1 Hope you'll review this. Look forward to your views.


Megha I will try to review once I finish. For now I can tell you that the tone of the review will that be of mild disappointment.


Megha The clouds of disappointment cleared up a bit towards the end. Review to come.


message 7: by William1 (new)

William1 Great


message 8: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek mp, I think it was you who made an earlier comment about being disappointed or underwhelmed at the end, and it really affected my reading of the last 50 pages.

I was in suspense, physically, the whole time, terrified that something unappealing to me would occur.

Fortunately for me, it didn't, so to that extent, I enjoyed a happy and suspenseful ending, because of your comments.


Megha No, I was not underwhelmed by the ending. I started to feel a bit tired during the earlier portion of Book 3. But things picked up speed soon after that. I actually liked the ending quite a bit.


message 10: by Ian (last edited Nov 28, 2011 02:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek Book 3 introduced a third narrative, which changed the pace a bit. While it added detail and perspective, it delayed the reading of the resolution of the narrative between Tengo and Aomame.


message 11: by Stephen M (last edited Nov 28, 2011 01:50PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Stephen M I felt that the third narrative was somewhat unnecessary since we already knew what Ushikawa had to find out and we were told the story all over again. There were some things here and there that I liked about his character and the questions he raises, but it only added to the repetition.

The part I did love about the end was when Tengo and Aomame were reunited. That scene was very well done considering we waited 900 pages to get there.


message 12: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue I also loved Ushikawa, he was ugly and kinda of bumbling but he was smart (or I thought he was) just on the verge of getting the answers, until he was snuffed out. In a movie now who would be fitting to play him LOL Maybe his character should have been more involved in book two? Having read the book all in one sitting maybe the story may have needed to be repetative? That was one part of his writing I enjoyed is that there was only one time I had to go back and look up somebody and it was Ushikawa!! I really really liked him and maybe the Cinderella ending wasnt the greatest ending, I would have like to see Ushikawa finally at least figure out the whole story since he too was in the Q world. Im sad for him LOL


Stephen M Sorry Megha my allegiance is still with DM. 1Q84 made me miss/appreciate Cloud Atlas even more. Interesting it did the opposite for you.


Megha Hmm, interesting. Was it perhaps a different aspect of 1Q84 and Cloud Atlas that you were comparing?

Anyway, I am not writing DM off. My copy of Black Swan Green has been waiting patiently for a while. With that I get to re-evaluate my stance on DM.


message 15: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek Stephen M wrote: "Sorry Megha my allegiance is still with DM. 1Q84 made me miss/appreciate Cloud Atlas even more. Interesting it did the opposite for you."

DM over HM? That's a big call. I don't think I'd want to have to choose.


Megha I don't see why one favorite authors list can't have room for both of them. You shouldn't have to choose.


message 17: by Stephen M (last edited Mar 15, 2012 05:12PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Stephen M I'm the kind of reader who is more impressed with prose than story. So, DM's the natural choice for me. There's nothing that special about HM's writing, but 1Q84 may be better on a strict plot level. I also think that Murakami has his thing that he does—which is fantastic don't get me wrong—but I can only take so much of the Murakami shtick. DM's novels are vastly different from one another. That's another thing that I gravitate towards.

Like with all things, they are just different writers; it's unfair to compare but I have a lot more respect for DM as a writer.

It's also possible that I need to take an extended break from HM, because I've read so much of his stuff the past year. I wasn't able take another 900 pages on top of it.


message 18: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek HM is like a hypnotist for me. I do what he tells me to. Even wander around the house blind-folded with my tongue hanging out going woof-woof.

Woof-woof. Bang. Ouch.


Stephen M Ian wrote: "HM is like a hypnotist for me. I do what he tells me to. Even wander around the house blind-folded with my tongue hanging out going woof-woof.

Woof-woof. Bang. Ouch."


Haha, well put.


message 20: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek I think I've become a Murikarmic Automaton.


message 21: by Megha (last edited Jul 13, 2012 10:32PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Megha Stephen M wrote: "I'm the kind of reader who is more impressed with prose than story. So, DM's the natural choice for me. There's nothing that special about HM's writing, but 1Q84 may be better on a strict plot leve..."

That's all very understandable. What I read Murakami for, is neither writing nor plot, but the hypnotic and dream-like experience his novels have to offer. That's something I haven't seen any other author do as well, so far.
But I agree, in terms of writing there is not a whole lot of variation. And his novels have a lot of things in common. So reading too much Murakami at once can get frustrating. Somehow I don't mind any of that.
Murakami is also an exception to my reading preferences in general. Usually I don't even read two books by the same author back to back, because I want variety in my reading. So far Murakami is the only author of whom I have read more than 2 or 3 novels.


Megha (mura)Karma is a bitch.


message 23: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek I hear what you're both saying, but I don't agree that there's "nothing there".

For me, HM writes with an economy that is a spiritual equivalent of Hemingway's much more earth-bound and pragmatic American style.


Megha I don't mean to say that the writing is bad. It is clear, simple and down-to-earth and that works for me.
But I can see how some people may want more than that.


message 25: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek Ha ha, some people always want more, more, more.


Megha One reviewer that just featured in my review called this lazy writing. He wanted more.


message 27: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek I tried to address this type of issue in my review in My Writings.

For me, there is a difference between the laziness of omission or lack of effort and a deliberate stylistic choice.

I believe that HM wrote the book exactly the way he wanted to.

It required a lot of effort at every level. It wasn't lazy.

That doesn't mean that it wasn't to the taste of some or many readers, or that some readers might be wanting more resolution or content or effort.

But that is a response of the individual reader, rather then a flaw of the author.

It's like "I don't like it" as opposed to "it's bad or wrong".


Megha I was fine with the writing style, but I do wish the writing were tighter and less repetitive. I had a tough time making it past the middle portion.


message 29: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek I understand that. We are not used to repetition and therefore regard it as a vice.

However, I've argued that the repetition was deliberate and functional and reflected different perspectives on the same events/worlds and even the two different worlds.


Megha Sounds like your review has the answers to all the mysteries of the universe. I am gonna go and re-read that. It has been a few months since I read it.


message 31: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek Ha ha, it's just opinions and we all have plenty of them. But it is a self-conscious justification and defence of HM's style. And I might be "wrong".


Megha I am cent percent pro-HM. So I expect to see myself agreeing with you for the most part.


message 33: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Heidin-Seek I'm also going to have to confront the issue of "length" in my review of "The Recognitions".


message 34: by William1 (new)

William1 This does not surprise me. HM's Kafka on the Shore I couldn't get through. It turned very trite about 1/3 of the way in. Disappointing since I like Wind Up Bird Chronicle so much.


Megha Stephen M wrote: "I'm the kind of reader who is more impressed with prose than story. So, DM's the natural choice for me. There's nothing that special about HM's writing, but 1Q84 may be better on a strict plot leve..."

By the way, Stephen, have you read Norwegian Wood? If I remember correctly, the writing has a different flavor in the that one.


Stephen M Yeah, I've read Norwegian Wood. I wasn't blown away by it or anything, but it was certainly worth the read. I think that Hard-Boiled Wonderland has the best prose styling of the Murakami that I've read. I'm not sure if that's due to a different translator or what.


Megha William wrote: "This does not surprise me. HM's Kafka on the Shore I couldn't get through. It turned very trite about 1/3 of the way in. Disappointing since I like Wind Up Bird Chronicle so much."

I have a feeling that people who haven't already read Wind Up Bird Chronicle often like Kafka on the Shore more. I think Kafka was good too. But I had read Wind Up first and in comparison I found Kafka to be weaker.

As for 1Q84, there is a good story embedded in there.


Megha Stephen M wrote: "Yeah, I've read Norwegian Wood. I wasn't blown away by it or anything, but it was certainly worth the read. I think that Hard-Boiled Wonderland has the best prose styling of the Murakami that I've ..."

That's possible. It has been quite some time since I read all those, so don't particularly remember much about the writing. I do remember not liking Phlip Gabriel's translation of Kafka.


message 39: by Kedar (new)

Kedar Good Review, Megha.
I was thinking on similar lines as some of the latest comments.
Does one's relationship with Murakami's work depend a lot on the book that you pick up first? I mean, most of the folks start with Norwegian Wood, a more approachable work. Then they start tilting towards his other words and find them surreal. Some throw the towel, some come out of the psychotropic magic tent beaming and thirsty for more mystique.
Some folks start with Wind-Up Bird and have already reached a high that goes down with the other works.
While if they start with any other work, apart from the two mentioned earlier, and they stick through, there is a rich treasure ahead.

I don't know if I am right. Very subjective matter. Maybe it's a very naive comment since I just picked Norwegian Wood, my first Murakami.


Stephen M Yeah, I first started with Wind-Up which if there's only one book to read of Murakami's, that's it. The others haven't matched up as well except for Hard-Boiled Wonderland. That is a fantastic book.


Stephen M Megha wrote: "I do remember not liking Phlip Gabriel's translation of Kafka."

Of Kafka? Did he translate Kafka as well as Murakami?


Megha Oh I meant Kafka on the Shore. Sorry.


Megha Kedar, I agree. One's opinion of a particular Murakami novel appears to depend a lot on the order in which the books are read. One of the reasons would be that there are common elements in many of his books. Once you have encountered them all, you may not find much new in the next one you read.
It started with Wind Up, and that turned out to be great.


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

"1Q84 is actually a test to see how much Murakami fans are willing to put up with. And the test is a tough one."

Bam. Yep. That's it right there.


Jenn(ifer) Sean wrote: ""1Q84 is actually a test to see how much Murakami fans are willing to put up with. And the test is a tough one."

Bam. Yep. That's it right there."


agreed 100 percent.


Nelly Stephen M wrote: "I felt that the third narrative was somewhat unnecessary since we already knew what Ushikawa had to find out and we were told the story all over again. There were some things here and there that I ..."

I also questioned the Ushikawa part. His perspective added nothing to the story and I did not find his investigation and march to the truth suspenseful or engaging especially after the excitement and drama of what had transpired earlier. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and its pace. I wonder though what is lost in translation. I'm imagining that some of the awkwardness of the language has to do with that.


message 47: by Megha (last edited Mar 17, 2012 09:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Megha Nelly wrote: "I wonder though what is lost in translation. I'm imagining that some of the awkwardness of the language has to do with that. "

That, and also the fact that there were two translators. The tone of the book is bound to change at least a little where it switches from one translator to another.


Shovelmonkey1 I received this book as a gift recently and was going to start attacking it with my eyes fairly soon. I'm about to postpone the assault based on your review!


Megha You could check out Ian's review if you want to read one with a more positive opinion.
I can only recommend this with reservations.


Shovelmonkey1 That's ok. I know there are two sides to every coin/book. I've been reading some big fat fatty books recently (many round 800-1000 pages) so my arm muscles could probably do with the rest anyway!


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