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Book review: 1Q84

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Haruki Murakami’s long-awaited 1Q84 divides opinion between our reader panel...

“One of the most enthralling books I have ever read”

Says Samantha Southern

"1Q84: Books 1 & 2 comprises the first instalment of cult Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s hugely anticipated new trilogy, partly inspired by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Set in Tokyo, the plot follows the isolated Aomame and Tengo, into a parallel universe dubbed ‘1Q84’. Murakami’s masterful manipulation of time and narrative examines what we will believe, and 1Q84 is a hypnotically captivating read. While the intense subject matter may be challenging at times, the realism with which Murakami describes this other world absorbs the reader, making 1Q84 one of the most enthralling books I have ever read."

"Not a light read"

Says Natalie Hudson

"I found 1Q84 complex, and at 700 pages it’s not a light read, but once you’ve entered its dark, fantastical world, you’ll find it difficult to leave. Murakami is known for his alienated characters in off-kilter environments. 1Q84 is no different. The tale moves between former childhood sweethearts Aomame, an assassin, and Tengo, an aspiring writer, who are gradually drawn together when Tengo begins rewriting the confessional novel of Fuka-Eri, a 17-year-old schoolgirl raised in a religious cult."

“The stuff of misshapen nightmares”

Says Sarah Grieve

"1Q84 will grip, captivate and leave you reeling. Much of what occurs is surreal and dreamlike, but the book maintains a grounded quality through its developed characters, the charm of whom is expressed through their trailing thoughts and well-explored back stories. This exploration between fiction and reality is not always a light-hearted, fantastical journey; as with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four many of the images are the stuff of misshapen nightmares. While a little heavy on detail at times, it’s an enthralling read which I’ve reflected on long after the final page."

"Intriguing but frustrating”

Says Josie Turner

"While there are traces of Orwell in Murakami’s unnerving thriller, it strikes me that 1Q84 draws its inspiration from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Both trilogies feature separated lovers struggling against corrupt religious authorities in alternate realities; both invest their heroes with ‘special powers’ and pitch them into mortal danger. However, where Pullman creates a spellbinding quest, 1Q84 seems like a series of empty tricks. For me, Murakami’s intriguing ideas fall frustratingly short."

"I loved it"

Says Annick Hagemann

"I loved this novel. It was also a new discovery for me as I’ve never read Murakami before. He introduces us to Aomame and Tengo, whose predictable lives spiral out of control. Aomame begins to encounter strange phenomena which make her doubt her own reality, while Tengo’s life takes an unexpected turn after he agrees to participate in a scam. You are immediately drawn into Murakami’s unfamiliar world because the surreal borders on the almostconvincingly possible. You start looking around you and begin to imagine your own parallel universe."

Have you read 1Q84? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 1Q84: Books 1 & 2 by Haruki Murakami is out now in hardback (£20, Harvill Secker).

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