Hello, fellow readers!
It’s been taking me a long time to get through Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84”, but now that I finished Book 2, and before heading into the final part of this very long novel, I’ll share my thoughts on Book 2 here today.
Synopsis of Book 2 (Spoilers Ahead)
In Book 2, Aomame undergoes the task of killing the Leader of a cult group who is believed to sexually assault young girls. Undercover as a physical therapist, she is hired to treat the Leader’s chronic pain, but when she finally meets the Leader, she learns that his story is much more complex than she thought. Not only does he reveal that he has secret powers (which she sees for herself) but he also claims that the young girls were not quite human at all and that he was under their control. He describes the Little People that are portrayed in Fuka-Eri’s book “Air Chrysallis” as real entities and also reveals that he is Fuka-Eri’s father.
Well aware that Aomame is there to kill him, Leader beckons her to do so because he is tired of his pain and of being under the control of the Little People as a “Receiver.” Before Aomame carries out her task, she learns from the Leader that, in this alternate universe of “1Q84,” she is to die and sacrifice her own life so her lifelong love, Tengo, can live. She realizes that she, Tengo, and Fuka-Eri all have an important role in this new world that they have entered (though she doesn’t understand how or why they are in 1Q84.)
On this same strange evening in the timeline of 1Q84, Fuka-Eri and Tengo have a moment of intimacy. The situation is much as the Leader described to Aomame – meaning Tengo’s body is controlled in a similar way to how the Leader’s has been. In this moment, Tengo has a vision of the time he and Aomame first touched hands. After this night, Aomame goes into hiding, and Tengo seeks her out since he realizes that he doesn’t want to live life without her anymore. One night, from the apartment she is hiding at, Aomame sees Tengo at a park across the street gazing up at the two moons. She rushes out after him, but he is no longer there.
Later, she returns to the spot on the highway where she first took an emergency exit in Book 1 to see if that will return her to the normal world of 1984, but the spot is no longer there. She is about to shoot herself with a hand pistol in desperation to get out of 1Q84, but at this same moment, Tengo encounters an air chrysallis much like the one described in the book, and, inside it, he sees a young Aomame and calls out her name.
Book 2 started out strong: I enjoyed the suspense and thriller-like aspect of Aomame’s mission. I also appreciated her encounter with Leader which took a different turn than I expected. I didn’t think that he would actually want to be killed nor that he would indeed have supernatural powers.
The book got a little too weird for me when Fuka-Eri and Tengo have intercourse because Fuka-Eri is only 17, which would make this quite unethical. Pointedly, Tengo did not do anything on his own accord (his body was controlled as he is the new “receiver” and Fuka-Eri is a “perceiver” – still a bit lost on this aspect), and it is not quite a moment of “pleasure” for either character but more like a ritual in which they are communicating into Tengo’s memories with Aomame and in which Fuka-Eri gives him insight into these memories. Still, there are other ways that this connection between “receiver” and “perceiver” can play out, and I don’t know why the book had to resort to this specifically. In my eyes, this idea (including that of the Leader and his “shrine maidens”) is problematic in terms of each character’s agency among other things, and I wish it was handled differently.
In another light, there are some thought-provoking ideas that I liked in Book 2, including the idea of writing out one’s own story. Many of the things that start to happen are just as it is written in “Air Chrysallis” which we also finally get to know more about since Aomame ends up reading it. Delving into “Air Chrysallis” was a fascinating part of the book, as it gives insight into Fuka-Eri’s background and why she escaped from Sakigake. Aomame starts to have a realization that she is part of this book since she is in a similar world to that which is described in “Air Chrysallis”. This makes Tengo a character that can possibly be the “creator” of this world and all the main characters, including himself, are now in a book within a book (if that makes any sense).
This is an interesting turn, and it makes me wonder if Tengo’s writing also has the power to change events. Maybe Aomame does not have to die. Maybe Aomame and Tengo can actually meet and live happily ever after. It can possibly be up to however Tengo writes out the rest of the story.
Finally, what I also liked about Book 2 is the romance between Tengo and Aomame. They have not met yet (not since they were children), but the fact that they both know deep in their hearts that they love each other (and that they have always loved each other) can’t help but make me excited for how their love story will play out. I’m rooting for them in Book 3 – maybe love can beat all odds in the strange-fated world of 1Q84.
Thank you for stopping by today! The next plan is to finish the book and share my thoughts on everything as a whole. I hope you are safe (and warm!). Until next time, happy reading! 🙂