Haruki Murakami – 1Q84 (Book 3) review

This is the last book of Murakami’s 1Q84 series. There are also single volume versions available for readers who’d prefer not to have the three-volume box set or purchase three volumes separately.

Following my reviews from Book 1 and Book 2, I’ll have to say I am unimpressed, and in fact, slightly disappointed with Book 3. (Spoilers included.)

Personally, I found that the addition of Ushikawa’s POV into the book disrupted the consistency developed since volume 1. Largely due to this addition, the first half of the book was mainly repeating many things which were mentioned in the first two volumes (Ushikawa’s investigation of the Leader’s death led him to delve into the lives of Tengo and Aomame). If Book 3 was made into a movie, it will be one with lots of flashback scenes.

That said, the story did not pick up from where Book 2 left off until the second half of Book 3. It may be argued that contents from the first half of Book 3 were necessary for Ushikawa’s character build up. His character was not entirely unappealing. Ushikawa played a succinctly salient role in leading Aomame to Tengo’s apartment, although unknowingly.

As mentioned, the story picked up again in the second half of the book.

There were a handful of consequential scenes and conversations involving Tamaru, the man who swore upon his life to serve the Dowager wholeheartedly. Tamaru was often portrayed as a remarkable hitman, except he kills to protect the Willow House and the Dowager. Tamaru’s chilling character was accentuated in the chapter of Ushikawa’s POV when he murdered the latter and phoned the point of contact in Sakigake to dispose of the dead body. On other episodes when he decided it was not necessary to personally take on a job, he a wise and caring man. Very often he would give advice to Aomame (over the phone) who went into hiding. He would do everything within his capacity to protect Aomame in the name of the Dowager. His presence provided much needed assurance to Aomame who was in need of assistance to get by her days of hiding while searching for Tengo.

While 1Q84 is a beautiful story centering Aomame and Tengo, two individuals who went through all kinds of hardships to see each other again after realising they have loved each other for the past twenty years. It took Tengo twenty years, with the loss of a girlfriend and his father, and being thrown into utter loneliness, to realise that Aomame may be the only one that he had ever loved. This closely mirrors our own behaviour and reactions in daily life; a new environment brings about a realisation you’ve never had, when something is gained, another is lost, everything happens for a reason that is rarely comprehensible.

I cannot say that the story ended as how I expected it to end. The way it ended was too beautiful. It was a heartwarming ending. I had surmised Murakami to put an abrupt end to the story without clear conclusions or answers, like he did in several of his other books, which seemed a lot like desperate and convenient attempts to finish off a half done job. If all I cared about was Tengo and Aomame, I would have been satisfied. It was indescribable joy (so thankful to Murakami) to read that they found each other and exited the world with two moons hand in hand.

As with several other of his works, there were unfinished business in this three-volume series. The cult/religious organisation was left hanging (they were on their way to Tengo’s apartment when he left for the playground to meet with Aomame), it was unclear who was chosen to be Leader’s successor (readers could speculate that it was the child Aomame carried, which was why they were pursuing her and claimed they had no intention to cause her harm), what happened to them without a new Leader, if the Fuka-Eri, the one who lived with Tengo for three months, was the dohta or maza, the origin of this two terms dohta and maza and which category does Aomame’s child fall into. There are so many matters open for speculation. It may represent the writer as inciting readers to think, or, unpleasantly, seemed as laziness to tie loose ends.


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