Right, pardon me for late review, for I’ve read this long-ish time ago, but here it is. Haruki Murakami is a special author indeed. It’s not for everybody, his books. They take a specific person to be loved.
1Q84 is a world. Right world, wrong time, but a world it is. It’s a year that was 1984, but shifted after Aomame, the protagonist, did something she usually wouldn’t do. It’s how it all always starts. We change something about ourselves, about our behavior and suddenly – our world changes too.
It all started quite innocently. She got stuck in traffic on her way to what seemed a harmless job. Taxi driver suggested she take the emergency ladders that eventually lead her to a train station or a tube, pardon me for not knowing what is what. She stepped out, she looked around and nothing was wrong beside the tiny little things. Right up until the night fell and she saw a second moon rise in the sky, right beside the one we see.
You see, Aomame is an assassin, with a skill like no other. She can find that one spot at the back of your neck and pierce it with a long sharp needle she made herself. You will die instantly, no pain, no suffering. She doesn’t just go on killing sprees, thou. She’s hired by a rich elderly woman who saw family abuse like no other, abuse to which she lost her daughter. Abuse she swore to at least try and stop. That woman has a shelter for women who are being beaten or mistreated, they can come and stay with her, and she will provide all the needed legal help and… She also now and again hires Aomame to eliminate the men once and for all. All would’ve been okay, even the second moon, if one day a pre-teen girl didn’t turn up at the door of this elderly woman. She was raped, as it seemed, by a leader of a very strict religious organisation. And Aomame is to eliminate that leader.
Second protagonist is called Tengo. He’s a math teacher and a writer on his free time. His friend in publishing business one day asks him for something unusual. You see, they check these writings of people all across Japan, searching for writers who deserve rewards for their great works, for prizes and fame. Sort of a contest anyone can enter and prove their worth as a writer. Tengo enters it too, all the time, but never wins anything, and yet this time he runs into something that can win. It’s not his but he can help, he knows he can, he knows exactly how to help. And this friend of his believes that too, thus they take the blueprint a seventeen year old girl who can barely speak because of some form of what seemed to be a dyslexia, and they rewrite it. It’s cheating, Tengo knows it and feels very bad about it, but at the same time the story just draws him in, he knows that if anyone, only he can make it a full story and he’s not wrong. The moment the story is out – it’s a bestseller demanding reprints over and over. The problem is that the girl is from the religious organization that’s very strict. And her father is the very leader Aomame is to kill.
Thus both Tengo and Aomame crossed a group of powerful people. They live in the same city, but never met. They went to same school, but lost all connections with each other soon. And yet they lead very similar lives, in a way. All the time thinking of each other.
It’s a great story. I didn’t think it’d be so fun after the first book. There’s a lot of time-stretching in H.M.’s books, which isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but it bores readers like myself. I prefer things concentrated, saturated, quick and to the point, always in action so that I am left with no time to look around. Yet it was still quite a book. The only problem with it that I truly have even now is that Tamaru, the gay bodyguard of the Lady from Azabu, the woman who shelters abused women, was more interesting than both Aomame and Tengo (in a way, Fukaeri, the girl who wrote the story Tengo rewrote, was more interesting than these two too). I truly wish that Murakami would someday just give him a book. He grew up in this insane place, overly religious, he got beaten, he got tortured, he got into the business of murders and ended up a bodyguard. He treats the lady with such high respect that it’s pure gold to read. Really, an interesting man and a story I’d love to read.
So all in all, these were marvelous books. I’ll give it 4 out of 5, taking a point away because of the stretching across the pages, when nothing happens for really long periods and all you read about is people making food and cleaning their homes. Other than that – so many things went absolutely unexpected! I love when I can’t predict a book. It’s a rare thing, trust me.