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Time, and Book 11: 1Q84 vol. 3

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I don’t understand how it’s late-mid-May already. I could swear I just put up the Christmas tree maybe three days ago. But I counted, and I have 39 days left at my awesome job, and my boss made me take down my little countdown because it was making everyone too sad. I tried to explain that sad is like happy for deep people, but it didn’t fly.

39 days left at work means 40-something days until moving day, and if Christmas was two or three days ago, well, shit, I’m pretty much moving tomorrow. My apartment? A mess. My stuff? Not remotely packed. Books? All over every surface in my house. And we’re making some progress–slow progress, unfortunately, but I’d rather not kill myself trying to get everything done at once, because I’m a little too much of a perfectionist and I’d rather not develop an ulcer trying to get ready to move.

All this means is that, when I have a little spare time, I’m reading. But when I have enough spare time that I could conceivably write a blog post in said time, there are more pressing things for me to work on. I’m on book 16, really. Almost done with it. It’s wonderful. And I’m just now getting to book 11’s post. (Well, I did try one other time, but I was just in such a bad overall mood that the post just ended up being all negative and whiny and that’s not what I want, especially when I loved the book. And that was over a week ago!

So: Time. It’s crazy. People always told me when I was a kid that when I grew up, a year would seem like nothing. I didn’t believe them, of course. A year was, like, forever. So I asked one of my coworkers, who is around 60, if this is just how it is. Will it slow back down? Is it just because I’ve been crazy busy lately? Or will the year 2029 go by as quickly compared to 2014 as 2014 is going by compared to 1999? Does time continue accelerating at a steady pace, or will it keep accelerating but not quite as fast?

Is being an adult about sitting around in 2014 still wondering what happened to 2012?

But today, I have some time. Today, my goal is laundry, and I can blog while that’s going. It probably won’t be too long, though. We’ll see.

Book 11: 1Q84, Volume 3

I’ll be honest: The other reason it’s been taking me so long to get this post up is that I just don’t know how to talk about this book. More accurately, I don’t know how to talk about this book without my post being 90% spoilers. I’ll try to keep them fairly minor, but fair warning: Spoilers Ahead.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked up 1Q84. I had never read any Murakami before. In fact, I don’t even know if I’d ever read any Japanese literature before. And then the type of literature–it’s sort of a magical realism, I think, but I honestly don’t know because I haven’t read a whole lot of magical realism before. It was categorized where I first heard of it as fantasy, but I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. And, really, I didn’t look into it much beyond seeing lots of positive reviews and the fantasy categorization. I had absolutely no clue what this book was going to be all about, which ended up being pretty cool, because really, how often do you read a book where you just have no clue what to expect? Not often.

It’s a love story.

I remember the exact point at which I realized it was a love story. Tengo was on a train and he saw a young girl who reminded him of his classmate in middle school whom he didn’t know well, but had clearly left a lasting impression on him. He remembers that she was a Witness, and I thought, “Wait a minute. Aomame said her family were ‘Believers’. This… This is a love story.”

But even then, I wasn’t sure. I mean, I was hopeful that our two point of view characters would eventually meet again, but given the style of the book, I had no idea. There was so much working against them: The Little People, Sakigake, Aomame’s task and subsequent need to hide. I was completely ready for Aomame to die and for 1Q84 to be all about Tengo and Fuka-Eri’s battle against the Little People and Sakigake.

But she didn’t die, and there was no big battle. 1Q84 turned out to be a story about two people who want nothing more than to be reunited, who suddenly find themselves in a world that’s just slightly off, where there are forces that they don’t know anything about or understand–the Little People and Sakigake–working to keep them apart for seemingly no reason, and one force–Fuka-Eri–working the opposite side, helping to bring them together. Aomame and Tengo never find out more about the Little People, and neither do you. You’re right there with them, confused and hoping for something, but you’re not quite sure what.

Should you read this book? I’m not going to put a blanket recommendation on it. It’s a case by case basis. I will tell you this: There was one thing that bothered me about it. I found that the characters jumped to completely insane (true) conclusions far too easily. From the very beginning when Aomame realizes she is no longer in 1984 but 1Q84 based on a few missed news stories, I felt a little bit like, really? You miss a few news stories and the only logical explanation is that you’re in a parallel universe? Is that really, as you are saying, the only logical explanation? And this happens fairly often.

Should you read this book? That depends. Are you willing to take leaps of faith when it comes to characters just knowing what’s going on when there’s no apparent reason that they should be able to figure things out that easily? If you’re willing to think of this as a book about characters with insanely good instincts, that’s a check in the “yes” column. Do you love well-written detail about characters’ day-to-day lives? If you’re unlikely to throw the book out the window the fourth time the author goes into precise detail about what exactly one of the characters is making for lunch (keep in mind here that the book takes place in Japan, so as an American, I found it interesting because I felt like I was learning a whole lot about a different culture, albeit a fictionalized version of one), then put another check in the “yes” column. Are you okay with not knowing? With what felt like the main plot ending up being a side story that leaves almost all its questions unanswered, and the apparent side plot being the point of the whole story–keeping in mind that it’s done really well? Another check for “yes.” Do you like love stories, but at the same time you hate love stories so much? Definitely “yes.” Are you ready to take on a huge reading project? This one’s important.

This book is absolutely wonderful, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. I, however, can’t wait to read more Murakami–maybe next year when I have a bit more time and less pressure on my reading schedule! Hey, I mean, next year is practically tomorrow, right?

And before I leave off, I did mention that I’m nearing the end of book 16, so here’s the coming lineup!

Book 12: Railsea by China Mieville
Book 13: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Book 14: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Book 15: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Book 16: The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Book 17: Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

I’ll probably write soon! Railsea somehow wasn’t quite so ambiguous that I will have no idea what to say, so I don’t think I’ll procrastinate for nearly as long.

 

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About Rachael

Hi. I'm Rachael. I realized one day that, even though I read a lot of books, I often have a hard time remembering them later on. I guess that happens when there's so much to try to remember! So I started The 50 Book Project, with the intention to read and blog about 50 new (to me) books in 2014. I read a lot of fantasy, but I'm trying to branch out and experience new stuff. Any questions? Suggestions? Let me know! Comment, or email me at dearohrachael@gmail.com.

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