Finished it last night. And as I put the book down for the final time, my words were, ‘What a load of rubbish.’
To be fair, I did enjoy parts of it. I liked the bizarre little people, thought the logic of the alternate universe was clever, and I found the prose itself very relaxed and amusing in places. Murakami’s prose style is pretty easy to read, and I didn’t get sick of it until quite near the end of the third book.
But on the whole, I was disappointed. For one thing, it was way too long. I think it was the third book that ruined it, really. He could have resolved everything at the end of the second book. I really wish he had. The third book is a lot of messing around for no real reason – nothing that is threatened emerges as a danger, nothing is resolved, nothing actually happens except for a lot of prevaricating until Tengo and Aomame, the two lead characters, finally get together. By that point, I honestly didn’t care if they got it together or not.
The other big problem I had was with the way Murakami handled the rape and child abuse storyline. In the end, it was revealed that the rape and abuse wasn’t *real* rape and abuse, because it had been done to ‘concepts’, not real children, and what is more, it had been the children who instigated the sexual abuse. This really pissed me off, to be honest. I get that there was supposed to be a certain amount of ambiguity about what had happened, but I found that pretty unpleasant. It also served to totally undermine Aomame – up to that point, she had been a tough, cool woman, who was righteously sending rapists and abusers ‘to another world’. I liked her. But in the third book, she does nothing – and I mean NOTHING – except sit around mooning over Tengo.
It’s a shame, because some of Murakami’s novels are amazing. I was thinking about ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland…’, which is equally wacky, but which managed to engage me fully in the character’s lives and emotions. That book had an impact on me. 1Q84, on the other hand, has slipped out of my thoughts as easily as if it had never existed.