Saturday, December 31, 2011

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Rating 2.5 out of 5
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Random House Australia (2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1846554055
ISBN-13: 978-1846554056

It took me a month to read this book (due to holidays, work and illness). I finally finished it at the end of the December and have had a day or two to process it. I have come to the conclusion I still don't know if I liked or disliked this book. These day's I do not have time to stick with a book I don't like, yet for some reason with this book, something kept me turning the pages. I have no idea why. There is not a book I can remember reading which had me so conflicted  about how I felt during and after reading it.

What I disliked
The amount of information given. Sometimes it was like wading through water, there was just so much description and detail. At first I endured it thinking "this must all be important. it must tie in somewhere" and yes some of it did do that,  but the majority did not. Which for me is frustrating. There was also a lot of repetition, the same information given over and over. If there was a higher significance to this then I missed it.

At two points during the book the character Tengo was reading out passages from the book. This in its self is fine, but not when you then have to read word for word (for two pages no less) exactly what the character is reading. 

In the final book (the English version is three separate books combined) the points of views change. For books one and two the story is told through Tengo and Aomame's perspective. But in book three we get Ushikawa's perspective, a little bit of Buzzcut, and another minor character (whose name currently eludes me). This annoyed me as by book 3 I was invested in Tengo and Aomame not these other characters. Plus their views did not really add to the story at all. The information could have been revealed in another way (and from my view there was only one really critical piece of information that was revealed, then sort of left hanging flapping in the breeze).

It felt like the author Murakami had a big jar of plot devices and was just randomly selecting them. Some of them really felt just random and in there for the sake of it. Also along these lines some things would be revealed and then left, not further explained or explored. The overall story plot seemed random and unfocused, with the odd plot device thrown in to perk it up. 

What I liked
The characters. Tengo, Aomame, Fuki-Eri, Dowager, were interesting characters. They were complex, strange, quirky, and broken. Fuki-Eri in particular was fascinating. They were the main reason I kept reading so I could learn more and see where their individual stories took them.

The story its self and the world created is complex and just as fascinating as the characters that populate it. Murakami has a vivid imagination and has an interesting prose style. He has a unique way of painting a picture with words. While it was a negative for me it was also a positive. The reader is left in no doubt about how to picture the world created.

Book Three for me was the best out of the three books. I found it to be focused and driven, with most of the pieces coming together. For me it just flowed better and held my interest the best.

This is one quirky and epic book.  It is very different to what Western cultures are used too, which is both its strength and weakness. I can see how people would either love this book or hate it. Me, I fall smack bang in the middle not really liking it and not really disliking it.

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