Strengths: The beautiful writing and the need to for the pair to reunite.
Weaknesses: Too short! Open for a further sequel.
Why I read it: Absolutely loved Books 1 & 2.
Pages: 377 (ebook), also available in Australia combined with Books 1 & 2
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 9 out of 10
If you liked this, try: Other Haruki Murakami books, such as The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
Thanks to Random House Australia who kindly offered me the opportunity to continue on with Book 3 of 1Q84 (Readings Books let me read their ARC of Books 1 & 2). Book 3 continues where Book 2 left off, with Aomame and Tengo determined to find each other in this crazy world of 1Q84. Leader is dead and Sakigake and Ushikawa are trying to find Aomame. Tengo is in the cat town, as his father lies unconscious. Aomame is waiting for Tengo in her apartment, but the NHK fee man keeps pounding on her door. Fuka-Eri too, is disturbed by an abusive NHK collector. Is it a coincidence that Tengo’s father wants to be buried in his NHK uniform?
If you haven’t read Books 1 & 2, you’ll think that I’ve invented the above or gone mad. But no, this is all logical to those who inhabit the possibly parallel world of 1Q84. The main aim of the book is to reunite Aomame and Tengo. (Isn’t it odd that Aomame is always referred to by her surname and Tengo by his first name? We also find out Aomame’s first name, thanks to Ushikawa). I did feel that this book wasn’t as detailed as the other two, but perhaps this is because of several reasons: a) realistically, it’s a continuation of the same story and doesn’t need the same background; b) Book 3 is translated by Phillip Gabriel in contrast to Jay Rubin, hence a little bit of bumpy ground initially; and c) I believe this book was written later by Murakami after he’d had time away from 1Q84. Maybe I feel this way because I had a break of several weeks before continuing the story, rather than just turning the page to another section. But really, Book 3 is there to make an attempt to tie up the loose ends that Book 2 made you so frustrated about, isn’t it?
Well, kind of. This is Murakami after all, where there are often more questions than answers. Fuka-Eri disappointingly drifts off into the background, as does Komatsu and the dowager. The Little People reappear and new characters are introduced. But essentially, Book 3 is about three people we already know: Aomame, Tengo and Ushikawa. The chaser and the chased.
It wouldn’t be Murakami if there weren’t some weird and seemly unexplainable twists. Book 3 doesn’t disappoint in that sense, and twists make events in the previous two books seem clearer. The ending however, no matter how much you wished it to happen, is a little linear and predictable – unusual for Murakami. It does leave you with a sense of fulfilment though. Does the pedestrian ending means there are more events to unfold in a Book 4? Let’s hope so. I’d love to hear more about this world.
This is definitely not a standalone book – in fact, as very little backstory is summarised; it needs to be read after Books 1 & 2. If you read it all together, 1Q84 will not disappoint.