book review: 1Q84

i’d never heard of haruki marukami before reading his latest novel, 1Q84, at the recommendation of one of my friends.  i read every day on the subway ride to and from work – about 35 minutes each way – and at 1,040 pages, i was glad to have the electronic version of this particular work.

the story focuses on 2 main characters – aomame, a fitness instructor who moonlights as an assassin to abusive men, and tengo, a cram school teacher who spends his free time writing literature.  aomome ends up getting involved in a situation that brings her precisely-calculated life to a halt; while tengo becomes engrossed in rewriting the novel of fuka-eri, a beautiful young girl whose background involves a religious organization that revolves around “little people”, and which she fled from at 10 years old.  the two story lines are intertwined in a fantasy-like alter-world, nicknamed “1Q84″ by aomame,  this world’s most distinguishing characteristic is 2 moons in the sky, the regular moon, and a smaller green mossy moon.

the story is interesting, especially in the beginning, but i can see this novel becoming monotonous for some people (i don’t usually mind novels that drag somewhat – i guess that’s from reading all those large russian novels over the years!).  my one disappointment, however, was with the ending – there seemed to have been quite a few loose ends and unanswered questions that weren’t exactly explained/tied up.  but after thinking about it for awhile, i realized that maybe those things didn’t really matter – because at its heart, the novel is a love story – perhaps not the most conventional, but a love story nonetheless.  is it worth the time investment?  while i certainly enjoyed it, i’m honestly not sure.  i’d say 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


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