1Q84 Book 3 by Haruki Murakami

A quick rundown… Continues where Book 2 concluded, with Aomame and Tengo looking for each other in 1Q84.

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

Published: 2011

Publisher: Random House

Setting: Japan

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.

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16 thoughts on “1Q84 Book 3 by Haruki Murakami

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  1. It’s on my “very soon to be read List”. I have had it since the beginning of the year, but I couldn’t find time to read it, although I read 4 or 5 Murakami books this summer. i guess there’s a time for everything. 🙂

  2. I just closed Book 3 with a similar feeling: I want to know more! Here they are, finally reunited, and still we don’t know what will become of Tengo and Aomame and their child. Will they become the new leaders of a religion, but this time get it right? I can’t imagine…yet, I was relieved that at least they were reunited. Phew! As to all the other bizarre stuff, and violence, my heart is still aching for Ushikawa and his brutal murder.

    1. I really liked Ushikawa in the end and felt for him. I’m not sure what happened to Aomame and Tengo – I’d like to think they lived happily ever after, but this *is* Murakami…it would be interesting to see them pop up as minor characters in another book.

  3. How interesting to read the 3 books separately in time! I read them all together on a Kindle, but also felt the same as you did about Book 3 – a little bit disappointed at the beginning (was it the book or the translation?) After a while, I got further into Book 3, however, and felt the book eventually fit right in!

    I’ll link your interesting review to mine, as Bellezza has done on her blog!

  4. If you strip away everything else, at its center, 1Q84 is really a love story. But there’s rather a lot to the “everything else.” Haruki Murakami’s epic novel is the story of Aomame and Tengo, and the first two-thirds of the novel are told in chapters switching between the viewpoints of the two. In the last third, a new character and POV are added to the mix. Similarly to those works, browsing the novel felt like slowly sinking into a well of dreams, and being surrounded in a mood of awareness and off hand beauty/absurdity.

    So generally, if you love his novels like me, this is a must read and a good time : If you’ve never read him, you may want to begin with something shorter like Hard Boiled Wonderland.

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