Haruki Murakami

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1Q84: Book Three (1Q84 #3) – Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)

Published September 19, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Book Two of 1Q84 ended with Aomame standing on the Metropolitan Expressway with a gun between her lips.

She knows she is being hunted, and that she has put herself in terrible danger in order to save the man she loves.

But things are moving forward, and Aomame does not yet know that she and Tengo are more closely bound than ever.

Tengo is searching for Aomame, and he must find her before this world’s rules loosen up too much.

He must find her before someone else does.

What did I think?:

For my review of the first two books in the series, please click HERE.

Ah, Haruki Murakami – how I do love thee! This is the third (and final?) book in the 1Q84 trilogy by the Japanese author and it’s had a mixed bag of reviews, especially on GoodReads. As a devoted Murakami fan, my thoughts fall on the more positive, gushing variety but I have to admit, I could understand some of the comments made against it. If you’re new to Murakami, this probably isn’t the best book to begin with, I’d probably suggest Norwegian Wood or The Wind Up Bird Chronicle as he does have a bit of a tendency to be slightly “out there,” and perhaps it might be difficult to see his appeal.

For someone who totally gets him, the world of 1Q84 is magical, beautiful, occasionally dark and disturbing and intensely dream-like. Personally, I didn’t feel that the third book lived up to the brilliance of the first two but it was still a solid end to a wonderful creation that I honestly didn’t want to leave. The two main characters, Tengo and Aomame first met each other in childhood but when Aomame enters a strange new world where there are two moons, little people, and a crazy cult they begin to form a connection with each other again. Before long, it is obvious that the two are meant to be together but in this new, dangerous world coming together may also be their undoing.

We leave Aomame at the end of the second book in a rather precarious position with certainly more questions and wonderment for the reader than answers. However, if you’re about to read 1Q84 Book Three hoping for answers to all the mysteries, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Part of the Murakami style is to leave the reader hanging just a little bit, leaving us to make our own conclusions about what has been going on. Yes, this can be slightly frustrating at points and some people may hate it purely because of this but personally, I find it quite refreshing and enjoy making my own mind up about things rather than having things wrapped up for me in a perfect little package.

Every time I read Murakami, I become entranced by the world he leads us in to. It’s true, the action can be a bit muted at times, and at points not much really goes on. He has a gift however for pulling you into the heads of very intriguing characters so that you feel you know them inside out whilst at the same time, not really at all. It’s like being in a giant soap bubble that you don’t ever want to pop and with Murakami, I never want to return to reality.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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1Q84 (1Q84 #1-2) – Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (Translator)

Published September 18, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unravelled.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

What did I think?:

It’s strange to think that this is the first Haruki Murakami book that I’ve reviewed on my blog as I worship at the altar of all things Murakami after loving everything I’ve read so far – Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Sputnik Sweetheart and now the 1Q84 trilogy. For anyone who hasn’t read him, let me try and explain a bit about the magic he weaves. First of all, he’s not for everybody. His stories have a somewhat dream-like quality, there is quite a lot of magical realism and descriptive sequences and quite a lot of time can go by where nothing of significance really happens. I have to admit when I first read Norwegian Wood I didn’t get what he was about at all. However I persevered and it was almost like something slotted into place giving me a new-found wonder and appreciation for his work.

1Q84 has been described as his magnum opus and even though there are three distinct novels, books one and two were published together in the same binding. We have two main characters, the first is a woman called Masami Aomame who goes by her surname, meaning “green peas,” and the second is a man, Tengo Kawana who are citizens in the city of Tokyo in the year of 1984. When the novel first opens, Aomame is in a taxi on her way to an important appointment but traffic is incredibly heavy and she ends up using a different exit from the road on foot. She emerges in a whole new world that is exactly the same but significantly changed at the same time which she terms 1Q84.

Aomame is a talented muscle therapist and her clients leave her presence feeling dramatically better, both physically and spiritually. A wealthy older woman, known only as The Dowager gets to know her professionally and then when she sees what kind of character Aomame is, employs her on a personal basis to carry out a series of “missions.” I’m not going to say any more on that front for fear of spoilers.

Tengo teaches maths at a local school and is a talented writer in his own right but with no published work to his name. One day, his editor and friend Komatsu decides to involve him in a ghost-writing project that he is certain will be a great money spinner. There is a manuscript that has come to his attention written by a seventeen year girl called Fuka-Eri who is dyslexic and rather oddly, speaks without using question marks. (Stay with me, Murakami virgins!) Komatsu is certain that if her book, Air Chrysalis is re-written by Tengo and entered for a major literary prize, the world could be their oyster.

After meeting Fuka-Eri, Tengo is equally fascinated and concerned. There is an interesting and quite disturbing back story to the young girl which involved her being raised in a religious cult, known as Sakigake under the control of the henchman known only as the Leader. There is also some suggestion that the things that happened in Air Chrysalis actually happened in Fuka-Eri’s own life inside the cult. As this involves some mysterious Little People (who are not always benevolent) and a new world where there are two moons, Tengo becomes quite afraid about what he has let himself in for.

How are Aomame and Tengo connected? Well, they used to go to school together when they were ten years old and Aomame once comforted Tengo in a moment which he has never forgotten. They both think about each other constantly but at the present time have no idea how connected the two of them really are. Especially when it becomes imperative that there could be dangerous consequences for one or both of them if they do not meet and they are both starting to notice the appearance of two very strange moons in the sky..

As Murakami novels go, this is up there with the best of them and is actually my favourite of his novels that I have read so far. The characterisation is just genius – I loved both main characters although Aomame does clinch it for being particularly intriguing and, let’s face it, supremely bad-ass. Even the supporting characters are well fleshed out, particularly Fuka-Eri who plays a prominent role in the trilogy and Tamaru who is The Dowager’s loyal bodyguard and plays a vital role himself in assuring the safety of our heroine, Aomame.

However, this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’re not particularly familiar with Murakami’s style. It certainly isn’t that nothing really happens as I think this is one of the author’s most action-packed novels but if you’re slightly dubious, I suggest starting with The Wind Up Bird Chronicle just to give you a rough idea of how he writes. For me, 1Q84 had a bit of everything and more besides. It could slot into a number of different genres quite easily and yet is a mixture of so many. Finally, the ending of book two is so incredibly shocking and nail-biting that it’s impossible to delay reading the third for very long, the sign of a brilliant author in my opinion!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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My Lovely Bookshelves

Published June 6, 2015 by bibliobeth

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Hello everyone, I’m here to introduce my lovely bookshelves. I was inspired to write this post after seeing Cleo’s bookshelves on her blog – please see her post here and she in turn, was inspired by the post on Snazzy Books site. Thanks girls!

How do I organise my books?

I’ve got quite a few places for books to live despite having these two bookshelves which as you can see, are full to the brim. Despite the chaos that you can see, it is organised honest! I have a shelf which is mainly review books by Book Bridgr, lovely authors who send me books etc. I have another shelf for crime/horror/thriller which holds authors such as James Herbert, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen.

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The shelf in the middle of the picture are my little Agatha Christie hardbacks which look beautiful and I absolutely love but somehow need to get round to reading!

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Favourite authors that appear on my shelf?

Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Victoria Hislop, Irvine Welsh, John Grisham, Haruki Murakami, Ben Elton and Ian McEwan amongst many, many others. I even have an entire shelf devoted to the king that is Stephen King.

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What books do I have that I want to read soon but haven’t yet got around to?

Ah, these cover a range of shelves! The Quick by Lauren Owen, The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant and The Ruby Slippers by Keir Alexander…to name a few.

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Which books do I wish that were on my bookshelf but aren’t?

This is a tough one. I already feel that I could give The British Library a run for its money. I would love to have first editions of my all-time favourite books like It by Stephen King, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

Which books on my shelf are borrowed?

I’ve got Chinese Whispers by Ben Chu, Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel and the recent Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction winner 2015 How To Be Both by Ali Smith which I’ve borrowed from the local library.

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Is there anything I dislike about my bookshelves?

That there isn’t enough room! Just look at all the books I’ve had to stack up against the bookshelves on the floor. And then there’s under my bed where I’ve managed to squeeze a few (ok… around thirty/forty). I’ve got some amazing books here that I’m a little afraid that I’m going to forget about because I can’t see them properly in all their glory. At the moment I’m on a book banning buy so that I can try and get on top of my TBR and get the books on the floor and under the bed in the shelves where they belong. It’s hard though, when books come a calling, I want to go a buying!

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So there’s a quick gander at my bookish life. Yes, it’s messy and a bit complicated, but I love it and never get bored of rummaging in my shelves. Thanks again to Cleopatra Loves Books and Snazzy Books for the idea for this post and Happy Reading to everyone!

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