The story: ‘1Q84’ tells the story of two characters: Aomame and Tengo. When Aomame gets stuck in a traffic jam, her taxi driver advices her to take the emergency staircase if she still wants to be in time for her appointment. In doing so, Aomame leaves our world and enters another one. This new world, which she dubs 1Q84, seems very similar to ours, yet contains some key differences. Meanwhile, Tengo gets asked to ghost-write a novel written by a beautiful but very strange young girl named Fuka-Eri. Both are doing something very dangerous. Both are getting involved too much with 1Q84.
Of course, there is a lot more going on, but because this book is so long I do not want to spoil too much already.
The characters: I don’t have too much to say about the characters, really. Both Aomame and Tengo were nice enough and go through some character development. Especially Aomame has a complicated and interesting personality. Fuka-Eri was probably the most interesting character. She was very hard to pin down.
- The first two books build up the suspense very well. The first book is a bit slow, but then the second book has it all: it gives us answers to some major questions, it has a great atmosphere and it is action-packed.
- The concepts of the ‘Little People’ and ‘Air chrysalises’ were interesting and one of the major compelling factors of this book. It kept me reading, because I really wanted to know what these things were and what they did.
- The story itself felt fresh and original.
- The relationship between Tengo and Fuka-Eri was very well done. It was unusual, but still believable. I loved that Fuka-Eri (who never talks more than a sentence at a time) opens up to Tengo and how he gains her trust.
- Aomame just kicks ass.
- After reading the entire three books consisting of 1300+ pages, I’m still left with a lot of questions. What do the Little People want? What exactly is the purpose of an air chrysalis? Who is Tengo’s mother? Where is she? What has happened to Fuka-Eri? I understand that a writer doesn’t have to explain everything to his/her readers, but I think ‘1Q84’ could have done with a little more explanations, especially for the Little People and air chrysalises (which are key elements to this story).
- The third book was incredibly boring. During the third book, Murakami adds another viewpoint, namely that of Ushikawa, a guy who has to do research on Aomame. I think Murakami wanted us to read about his research, because it is supposed to add suspense to the story: the bad guys are slowly creeping up on Aomame without her realising it. However, EVERYTHING that Ushikawa discovers about Aomame the reader already knows. This wouldn’t be too bad, but his chapters go on for pages and pages and pages. You can’t force your readers to basically read a very lengthy summary of your first two books. It was boring and drained the third book of every bit of suspense it had.
- This isn’t a problem that only arises during Ushikawa’s chapters. Essentially, the entire third book felt repetitive and slow. I actually skipped entire chapters and had no trouble whatsoever with following the storyline. Seriously, you can’t do that to your readers. You CAN’T force us to read through 500 pages where almost nothing happens.
- The ending was an anti-climax. I won’t tell what happens, but I had expected a lot more.
I would give the trilogy of ‘1Q84’ 3.5 out of 5 stars. This score could have been a lot higher if the third book had been better. All in all, this story has some good factors, but the third book is just soooo bad. I would actually have given ‘1Q84’ a lower rating if it hadn’t been for the superb second book. If you want to read this work, I would advise you to read the first two books and then the last fifty pages or so of the third book. Or just look it up on the internet. Since you can buy the first two books without the third one, you can actually save some trees as well.