Haruki Murakami – 1Q84 (Book 1) review

The parallel paths experienced by the two protagonists enticed me to read on, only to uncover more of every characters’ past lives, each of them one way or the other linked to the community turned religious cult Sakigake.

The characters

It saddens me when there is no way of telling the chances of the two individuals finally crossing paths. The uncertainty increases as Aomame falls deeper into the world she self-proclaimed to be 1Q84, eventually accepting the distance between 1Q84 and the world of 1984 where she believed she had always been residing in. One followed by another mystifying events forced her to have to alter the information deemed as ‘facts’ in the former world; facts in 1Q84 became unfamiliar to her. However personally I wouldn’t find Aomame a pleasing character. Her thoughts often portray her as cynically, especially during her ‘hunting’ episodes when she tries to get one night stands.

Fuka-Eri on the other hand I find quite lovable. Undeniably, the written portrait of her puts an unrealistic image of a girl in my head. Her character though, was very concise. I particularly favour her way of speaking. Characters around her often expressed that she was not very articulate. That may be true, but this all the more makes her a conspicuous character. I hope I am not the only one who thinks this; Murakami often repeats the traits of the characters he created, both in the same story and across different stories.

For example, Tengo, the cram school teacher against the idea of fraud, mostly unconcerned with matters other than his own, ironically maintains an adulterous affair with a married woman ten years his senior. The two would have their secret rendezvous at his apartment on a weekly basis. A character with similar outlines can be found in Sputnik Sweetheart; only known as “K”, an elementary school teacher who also maintained an adulterous affair with one of his students’ mother.

The mishaps of the other characters with comparatively lesser importance are, the way it was narrated, inscrutably disturbing. Its narrations shines light on perspectives not usually seen from. As such, matters (say, rape) which usually evoke negative emotions such as discomfort, disgust, feelings that make you cringe on the outside, becomes implosive instead.

Things may look different to you than they did before. I’ve had that experience myself. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s only one reality.

I cannot wait to unravel the secret behind Sakigake, the now religious cult, and its leader in the second/third book. I also hope the second and third book will provide logical basis to the influential backgrounds of the Dowager (the woman who will later instruct Aomame to assassinate the cult leader) and the Sakigake leader who had alienated himself from the common society.

I am no doubt engrossed in the ostensibly ‘two different worlds’, however I wouldn’t call this Murakami’s best work, at least not at Book 1. There were several references which seemed unrelated to the story build-up, or perhaps the relation not yet revealed.

Regardless, I am moving on to Book 2 and will recommend this to readers who enjoy the concept of parallel worlds (NOT SCIENTIFICALLY/QUANTUM PHYSICALLY), cults and doctrines.

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