IQ84 by Haruki Murakami
I was handed the single volume binding of this trilogy by a friend and delved into it with curiosity as I had never read anything from Haruki Murakami. The ability of the author is plain to see; even if he indulges in a bit of narcissistic lecturing on what it takes to be an author, I feel he's earned the right to comment given his technical skills at authorship. There is somewhat of an authorial soliloquy around page 178 where he has Tengo utter phrases like: "The role of a story was, in the broadest terms, to transpose a single problem into another form."
The story is curious, idiosyncratic, dystopian, fantastical, overtly sexualised - all this and more over the course of some 900 pages. It was a book that commanded my time in a comfy chair over a few hours. It was a book that grabbed attention, slowly built characters and linked them together through coincidence and Fate yet... by the final few pages I put it down disappointed at the abruptness, the multitude of loose ends, the explanations that failed to come. Murakami hinted this would happen with his tiny excerpts from Air Chrysalis which also just... stops. Despite trying to encourage the reader to focus on the unfired gun of Chekhov's insistence, I found I sidestepped such a clumsy ploy, sat on top of the slide in the playground, stared at two moons and couldn't help thinking every time I put the book down..."Isn't this just 'The Borrowers' evil cousins at work?"
Of course, the nature of a fantastical dystopian novel is to perplex, confuse and beguile. We're not really meant to be led, rather encouraged to empathise, to seek our own 'voices' in the Little People; to try and relate to the introverted, self-cantered characters that litter the text. The only thing that separates them in their little bubbles is the occasional dysfunctional motive when they try to engage in emotion.
For me, a stand out novel is littered with sentences you want to quote to people; of crafted words that resonate with personal beliefs, fears, thoughts. IQ84 is such a novel. Here are some examples that stood out for me, starting with a sense the poesy inside Murakami's prose:
"Hundreds of butterflies flitted in and out of sight like short-lived punctuation marks in a stream of consciousness without beginning or end."
His sense of cynical humour:
"Constipation was one of the things she hated most in the world, on par with despicable men who commit domestic violence and narrow-minded religious fundamentalists."
We see more philosophical views:
"'Without a doubt you have done the right thing. But your act must not go uncompensated. Do you understand why?'
'No, not really,' Aomame replied honestly.
'Because you are neither an angel nor a god'"
Murakami voices his distaste with extremely dogmatic views:
"'Any religion that would prohibit life-saving surgery simply because it goes against the literal word of the Bible can be nothing more than a cult. This is an abuse of dogma that crosses the line.'" or "'there is always just a thin line separating deep faith from intolerance.' Ushikawa said."
And lastly a poignant statement that will resonate with many: "His daughters might forget all about him, but that blood would not lose its way. Blood had a frightening long memory."
Of course, there are hundreds more; there are long paragraphs where characters reflect on matters that are personal to them. Whether we agree with those or not is not the point; it is the understanding that Murakami draws us to opine in the silence of watching his words on a page and makes us pause from his narrative for some time before moving on.
I don't intend to speak of what the novel is about because, for me, the book has not prompted me to review it in that way. Rather, the stories of Aomame and Tengo set against the fantastical of the world of IQ84 and those who revolve around them are expertly drawn, always interesting, faintly plausible.
At times the book is shocking in its sexual brutality and violence given life in Aomame, at others breathlessly poignant in Tengo's elegance; yet, for all that this is a novel that left me slightly dis-satisfied. It satiated my craving as I flicked through the pages, left me not particularly wanting more as Aomame and Tengo climbed back up the ladder to the Expressway. I would encourage people to read it, which might be slightly odd as I believe you will put it aside with a sense of losing a moon, but there is no denying the beauty of the prose, the deft handling of the characters, the futility of their motives.
This IQ84 book review was written by travelswithacanadian
Have you read IQ84?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
IQ84 reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothi...
Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels ag...
The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boun...
Oryx and Crake
Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in bitter isolation and lo...
The Last Man Standing
Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo wa...
The Drowned World
Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows ...
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
John Joseph Adams
Famine, death, war, pestilence. These are said to be the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse-Armageddon. The End of the World. Whether by nuclear warfare, a biological di...
The Crystal World
Through a ‘leaking’ of time, the West African jungle starts to crystallize. Trees metamorphose into enormous jewels. Crocodiles encased in second glittering ski...
Emily St John Mandel
What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whil...
A modern Britain. An age-old cruelty. Britain's magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years - and now it's the Hadleys' turn...
An illness spreads through an unnamed city. It has only one symptom: blindness. It comes without fanfare, pain, or warning. One moment a man waits in his car at the traffic...
The Reapers are the Angels
God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe... Older than her years and completely alone, Temp...
Legends of the Red Sun
Mark Charan Newton
An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur. It’s a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshe...
The Return Man
The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness. They call it the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco ma...
Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen – from the Pres...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
What are Strungballs? Ten-year-old Sydney is about to find out... but first he must have a cube of his flesh removed. Sydney will transgress everything he was taught to believ...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside time and space. It is a strange and remarkable place, where technology rules – yet important events of both past and future are marked by the appearance of mysterious Time...
The Guns of Empire
As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace... After their shattering defeats at the hands of brillian...
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth....
Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasu...
For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the four...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...