Review of 1Q84 by Haruki Mirakami

Now, normally I get all my books at the library since it’s free, plus any bestselling book will probably be there eventually. However, when I was browsing the Barnes and Noble website one day, I noticed the book 1Q84 by Haruki Mirakami, whom at that point I had never heard of in my life, on the top sellers list, and intrigued, I read the summary on it. The book had a discount on it due to being a best seller, plus I had an online coupon so I decided to jump the gun and order the book. My mother asked, “Geez Kate, you’ve got an awfully big book there.” as I opened the box after I got the book delivered to my house. “Why did you get it?” “It looked interesting.” I responded, peering around the thin dust jacket on the book and oohing and aahing at the cover design. Then I began to read. And now that I have read the book in its entirety I’m glad I did go ahead and get it impatiently rather then waited for the library to have it on my once a month venture to its shelves.

To give a brief synopsis, 1Q84 starts off with the story of Aomame, whom after being stuck in traffic in Tokyo gets out of a taxi and uses an emergency escape on the side of the expressway due to the advice of the strange cab driver so she can make her appointment to assassinate a man who had abused his wife. From that point on, everything begins to change, from policemen suddenly having different guns to the sky have two moon’s instead of one. When she notes this change that doesn’t seem to line up with her memories, she comes up with the hypothesis that she isn’t in the world of 1984 (the year the novel takes place in), but in a different world where nothing lines up. She calls this hypothesis 1Q84, and from there on her world begins to change completely.

Then we switch to Tengo, who teaches math at a cram school, but is an aspiring novelist who has had work published before, but only under pen names. He lives his life monotonously, until his mentor, Komatsu, asks him to re-write a manuscript written by a strange 17 year old girl going by the pen name “Fuka-Eri”. But there is much more to this manuscript and this girl then meets the eye, as the manuscript wins a writers contest and is published into a book and Tengo’s world begins to change much like Aomame’s does.

To tell more about these characters and the novel to me would be giving away too much. This is one of those books you have to allow yourself to be immersed in to enjoy, because Mirakami does a phenomenal job of drawing you in to his world of 1Q84, creating such detail with such simplistic language that you could imagine you are right there alongside the characters as the web of connections between them all begin to draw them in. And they all drew in in ways I certainly didn’t expect they would when I began to read the book. Also the way Mirakami describes each of the character’s pasts made me connect with them, feel more empathy for them and why they did the things they did. The characters development was very rich, and was very human which made them very easy to connect and sympathize with. During and between my school classes, I would eagerly pull out this book and read, wanting to see what would happen next. The inquiries of my fellow teen peers asking, “What is that book about?” would get either the response, “Shhh, I’m reading.” or “It’s hard to explain. You’ll have to read it yourself.” Because it is one of those books that are hard to explain to other people. You have to find meaning in it yourself.

As a person who normally doesn’t buy books but checks them out, I was highly impressed with this novel. It has it all! Cults, romance, murder, George Orwell references, and so much more! The ending will leave you breathless as this book draws you in further and further into its very core, leaving each of us with a different message after the unexpected ending. It was highly enjoyable, and left me with a surreal feeling after having immersed myself and becoming a part of this world.

I would highly recommend 1Q84 to anyone. It is certainly worth the read, and it has a place on my shelf of hardbacks.

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