Genre: Magical realism/fantasy
Similar to: Literally nothing.
Could be enjoyed by: Fans of Murakami who also have a lot of patience
Publication date: 16th April 2010
“The world of Haruki Murakami is a very, very weird one. Literally no-one writes like he does. All of his books are set in quiet towns in Japan where people with ordinary lives have extraordinary, strange and bizzare things happen to them. His work defies categorisation – weird Japanese realistic fantasy is about as close as I can get. However, the stories are so brilliantly written and beautifully detailed that the fantasy elements feel totally natural to the overall narrative – to the point where you can describe an entire book and forget to mention that the main character can converse with cats.”
This is quote from my review of 1Q84 Book One (which I also used in my review of 1Q84 Book Two) and I still think it sets the tone nicely. Basically, Murakami books are downright weird – and 1Q84 is possibly the weirdest one yet. 1Q84 Book Three (the culmination of the trilogy) is where the average writer would begin to tie up loose ends…but Murakami clearly had other ideas. I’m actually left with more questions now than I had at the beginning, some of which involve pretty major plot points. The question is though – do I actually care? Did I expect to find anything out?
I guess the answer is…no.
A big, fat resounding no.
You see, that’s the genius of Murakami. I didn’t really expect to have any answers, I don’t know what happened, nothing has been resolved before getting to the book’s final destination.
All I know is, I just really, really enjoyed the journey.
1Q84 Book Three kicks off directly after the dramatic ending of Book Two, where Aomame was stood with a gun in her mouth about to pull the trigger. There’s a slightly laboured point about Chekhov maintaining that any gun introduced to a story must be fired so I was expecting some major drama. Except…that’s not what happens.
Basically – nothing happens.
The book is one long nothingy nothingness of no action, no drama and no plot development – and yet it still managed to grip me from the first page to the last.
No, I’m not entirely sure how either. But it did.
I think that perhaps one of the ways that Murakami managed this feat was the introduction of time slips and the concept that time was moving faster and slower for different characters or in different situations. This is all done extremely subtly through suggestion and the storyline is left up to the reader to piece together as the characters (none of whom meet each other until the very end of the book) weave in and out of each other’s narratives. In reality, this was done extremely effectively so it wasn’t as confusing to understand as it sounds and it added a new layer of WTF to keep me entertained.
I said in my Book Two review that I felt emotionally distant from the two main characters and this feeling remained during Book Three. For all his genius, I don’t think that Murakami writes women very well and honestly, the number of times that breasts were mentioned bordered the ridiculous. I literally know more about Aomame’s tits than I do about the main storyline (to be fair, not that difficult) and the final heartening scene was somewhat ruined by her apologising for having small boobs. I mean, really….
The ending itself explained literally nothing and although I was heavily invested in the storyline, I quite liked the open-ended “resolution” as I felt I had enough information to draw my own conclusions.
So, who are the little people? Why were Tengo and Aomame inextricably linked? What even is 1Q84?
Who gives a shit. This is a brilliant, epic trilogy; a masterpiece of magical realism and a fantastic, complex work that I’m sure most people will hate but I absolutely loved.
Rating: Four and a half levels of unexplained weirdness out of five.
Please note that I read this novel as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 #19 Read a book of genre fiction in translation.