Hallelujah! I finally finished IQ84. It took me so long to read this book that I had to download it from the library three times! That has to be some kind of record. Fortunately there was no waiting list for the e-book and each time I received the “your library book has expired” message, I was able to immediately re-download it and start reading just where I had left off. To be fair, this really is three books in one although the kindle format sure made it seem like one very long book.
When books one and two of 1Q84 were first published in Japan in 2009, a million copies were sold in just one month. This is my first Murakami, so I had no idea what to expect. The name IQ84 just kept popping up and when I saw on Amazon that it was October 2011’s best book of the month, I decided to give it a try. The story was fascinating and it certainly was different than anything I had ever read before.
IQ84 takes place in 1984 Tokyo. When we first meet Aomame she is riding in a taxi on her way to an important, yet mysterious appointment. Eyes closed she is listening to Janacek’s Sinfonietta playing on the radio. The sound quality is wonderful, yet strange and Aomame is surprised that after only a few bars she is able to recognize the symphony. Unfortunately there is a traffic jam and Aomame realizes that there is no way she is going to make her appointment unless as the driver suggests, she does “something extreme”. He then advises her of an emergency exit which would get her out of the mess. Before Aomame steps out of his taxi, he warns her “please remember: things are not what they seem.” The first unusual thing Aoname notices is a policeman’s uniform. “His pistol, too, was a different model”. When did the police change their uniforms? Aoname kept up with the news. Surely she would have read about something like this! And this was the first of many things that just didn’t seem right. Yes, something was very different.
Tango Kwana taught math at a private cram school. He had no friends other than his much older married girlfriend, whom he met several times a week in his apartment. He had no family to speak of other than his father who was in a sanitarium for people with cognitive disorders. When Tango, a talented, yet unpublished writer was asked to secretly rewrite a manuscript which had been entered into a literary contest, he reluctantly said yes. The author, Fuka-Eri was a 17-year-old girl who rarely spoke more than a word or two at a time.
The book alternates back and forth between the lives of these very unusual people and although you don’t know how or why you know that at some point their lives will collide. There are so many unusual characters in this book, and so many bizarre things that happen that you would have to read it to believe it. It is a book about an alternate reality, and yes it is a very strange book! Although it look me what seemed like forever to read it, I was never bored and found it to be a fascinating read. It could however have been a couple hundred pages shorter!