Review: 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is the kind of book you would either love or hate. 1Q84 is a super surreal book about a girl who somehow ends up travelling from the year 1984 to the year 1Q84. Confused? Yeah, the entire book is really hard to describe. Basically, it’s like Alice in wonderland but set in the 1980’s Japan. This new Japanese ‘wonderland’ is not as fantastical as Alice’s wonderland. It’s more like a reflection of the real world, with some strange happenings.

At first, it was interesting, I wanted to know what this strange new world was like. I was exploring what this new world was like and uncovering it secrets with the main characters. Then it got weird, because the things the characters do, and the world itself was weird. Then the assassination and rape plots came in, then it got interesting again. As you can imagine, the book alternates between interesting and weird all the way the end. Where finally, the climax and the conclusion kinda just fizzles out. I was pretty disappointed when all the build up turned out to be all for nothing.

To me, these sorts of surreal stories have always appealed to me, both in the written and in the movie form. I recognise a surreal novel is hard to write, but I also think that Murakami didn’t pull it off with this novel. Ultimately, the story had its moments where it’s genuine a page turner, but the weird bits of the plot kind of even it out. The writing was alright fro the most part, and the explanation of the ‘weirdness’ is clear. However, I also thought there a lot of excess scenes and information in the plot. A lot of the information the reader gets is never used later in the book. I don’t need to know all the food preparations, weird dream sequences with no meaning, or why the main character has one boob slightly larger than the other. Conversely, a lot of the plot lines are never answered or concluded at the end. Other than the well-written bits, I was left wondering ‘why did I just read that?’. Maybe if Murakami spent more time working on the plot rather than talking about random descriptions, this wouldn’t have happened.

The only saving grace is that this book does have interesting and quirky characters who are detailed. A bit too detailed for my liking though, one boob slightly larger than the other and all. Their development as characters is good and quite well thought out. I guess it helps because we view the story through their eyes.

Sadly, I can’t recommend this book to anyone. Unless you have read and like Murakami’s previous work, I don’t think you would want to step into this domain.

Score Breakdown:
Story/Plot (50%): 2/5
Character Development (25%): 4/5
Writing style (25%): 3/5

Total : 2.75/5

– I read this as an audiobook

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