Seamus Thompson's Reviews > 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
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's review
Oct 14, 2011

really liked it
Read from October 25, 2011 to March 16, 2012

Of the handful of Murakami books I have read this is definitely my favorite since The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. There is perhaps a bit more summarizing of earlier events than is strictly necessary, even for such a long book (some critics have complained about this) and I would say that those who haven't enjoyed Murakami's more surreal novels (Wind-Up, Kafka On the Shore, Wild Sheep Chase, etc) probably won't enjoy this one either.

What struck me most about 1Q84: First, Murakami's skill with characterization is at its strongest here. Both protagonists are interesting and well-developed and his secondary and minor characters are also nicely fleshed out. Second, the pacing and unfolding of the story (particularly in its final third) is impressive. This is definitely a novel that gains momentum as it goes. Third, 1Q84 is one of those rare works of meta-fiction that never really feels false or contrived. Somehow the meta elements, like trompe l'oeil effects in painting, actually draw you further into the novel.

There are definitely stomach-churning descriptions and scenes of what can only be termed sexual molestation. And while the story gradually reveals that these events may not be they seem, I'm torn between a sort of baffled concern that Murakami felt the need to tell the story in such a way, and a cautious respect for his willingness to go there. Of course, this is fiction and no one was actually harmed in the writing of this book. Still, there is something unsettling here (probably deliberately so) and I think it's worth addressing.

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