I finally have my life back. After a painful month of violent dreams and passive protagonists and a frustratingly too-convenient plot, I am finished with Murakami’s 1Q84. Yes, I admit, I’ve been distracted. My world couldn’t be further from his semi-fantastical Tokyo of thirty years ago. Instead, I’m in Edinburgh– city of winding lanes and gilded ceilings and triangle sandwiches. Exploring this city has been unusual and exciting; Murakami’s novel, on the other hand, was not.
Yes, there was token suspense. Yes, the world was sinister, full of malignant, cultish forces that conspired against our two protagonists, Tengo and Aomame. But these protagonists rarely DID anything back. Instead, the star-crossed lovers depended on secondary characters to get them involved in the plot in the first place, then take care of the bad guys, and finally meet. Left to themselves, they stayed indoors FOR HALF THE BOOK!! That means 400 pages of waiting, hiding, waiting. We learned about how to stretch. We learned about how to add sake to a stir fry. Infuriating! And what wasn’t organized for these too was conveniently set up by the plot gods. He happened to be at the right playground. She happened to be looking out the window. Etc.
I appreciate the hype, and I inwardly grin when a novelist gets pop-star status. I loved Murakami’s Norweigan Wood and his lesser known After Dark. For a creepy, surreal look into Murakami’s mind, this slim novel takes you there effortlessly. That said, don’t bother with this massive tome. It might disappoint you in the end.