Hi, fellow readers! After many months, I have finally finished Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84 (hooray!) and will share my thoughts on it today.
The book was one of the longest that I have read in a while with my copy of the book having 1157 pages. If you have been following my reading progress on 1Q84 since the start, you would know that I’ve spent almost a whole year on this book! That being said, this has little to do with the book itself but more with a busy past few months and me not reading as much as I would have liked.
In fact, 1Q84 is a book that is hard to put down and the average reader would probably finish it a lot faster than I did. And while there is much to love, there are some drawbacks, I believe, which hold the book back from the true masterpiece it could have been.
Summary of Book 3 (Spoilers Ahead)
In the final part of 1Q84, Aomame is in hiding from Sagikake after murdering the cult’s leader. She soon becomes pregnant with what she believes is Tengo’s child though she has never had intercourse with Tengo or any relations with anyone in the past few months. While in hiding within a comfortable apartment paid for by the dowager, she one day sees Tengo from her balcony sitting at a playground below and staring up at the two moons. She becomes determined to find and meet him.
Meanwhile, Tengo spends a large part of Book 3 with his sick father at the nursing home in a nearby town. Fuka-Eri is staying at his apartment in the meanwhile but soon leaves by the time Tengo returns and leaves a note to Tengo saying that his apartment is being watched.
Ushikawa is the person who Fuka-Eri speaks of as he has traced down Tengo’s location in hopes of finding Aomame. He has a hunch that there is a connection between them, so he rents out a bottom-floor apartment in Tengo’s building to watch his every move.
By the end of Book 3, Aomame finds Tengo’s apartment (oddly enough, by following Ushikawa one night), and although she doesn’t meet him, she informs Tamaru, the dowager’s bodyguard, who soon finds Ushikawa, questions him, and subsequently kills him. Tamaru then tells Tengo that he is to meet Aomame and the two meet one night at the playground where Tengo first saw the two moons.
The couple is in danger as now Sagikake is aware of what happened to Ushikawa and are now in an effort to hunt down Aomame. They seek the child she carries out of a belief that the child will help them continue to hear the voices of the Little People now that the leader is dead.
However, Aomame believes that her demise is not set in stone in accordance to fate. She and Tengo make their way back to the fire escape at the busy highway where she first entered the world of 1Q84. The two make their way up and back into the normal world of 1984 where they are able to finally enjoy the long-awaited love they have had for each other.
My Thoughts on Book 3 and the Novel as a Whole
Murakami is definitely a skilled creator of story as he intertwines many side-stories and characters in a fascinating way. While in the earlier half of the novel, the reader experiences each chapter through the third-person limited point of view of either Aomame or Tengo, the book’s main protagonists, Murakami expertly brings in the perspective of Ushikawa, devoting several chapters to his background and thought process.
By doing this, 1Q84 unwinds in a way that is much needed for the book at this point. So much of Book 3 becomes quite repetitive with Aomame’s hiding situation and Tengo’s visiting his father that it needed a push in a more dramatic direction, and that is how Ushikawa revitalizes the final part of the novel. He is an interesting character first painted in a negative light (almost as an antagonist), but who any reader will soon feel deep pity for as the book continues, and he soon became one of my favorite characters because of this – so much so that I cried when Tamaru took Ushikawa’s life.
And yet, for all that Ushikawa brings to the table, the book’s main protagonists fail to do the same by the book’s end. While the love story between Aomame and Tengo is quite beautiful as they haven’t spoken since they were ten-years-old, and their being reunited is an immensely joyful moment, their happy ending can’t help but feel rushed. Additionally, as a result of the tidy ending, so much is left unanswered and unexplored.
Many questions still hovered in the air after the book’s completion: How is it that Aomame willed their way back into 1984? What then becomes of Sagikake? And is Ushikawa and anyone else who died therefore still alive? While in 1Q84, did time stop for the rest of the world back in 1984?
It seems as though Murakami did not have a way to clean up the rough edges of these questions as he did with Aomame and Tengo’s love story. Or maybe the book just got too long and answers to these questions would take another several hundred pages (maybe a sequel can be considered?)
In the end, while reading the entirety of 1Q84 was enjoyable and did not feel like a waste of time, the ending was somehow still unsatisfying. Therefore, while this was a book that was a wonderful experience in many ways, it is not perfect or one that can be placed on my list of favorites, though it is not forgettable either.
I would still recommend 1Q84 to those interested in its grandness and the stylistic effort involved. It’s also a book that is fascinating in terms of pondering deeper questions such as fate/free-will, other dimensions, love, and much more.
Thank you for reading today’s review of 1Q84. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read it or are interested in reading it. I am currently continuing to read Blood Meridian which I had put on pause to finish this book, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on that soon. Until next time, Happy Reading! 🙂