#95 A Review of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Narrated by Alison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, and Mark Boyett

Last year I got addicted to audio books!  Simon Vance, the BEST audio book narrator in the world in my opinion, roped me in to the audio book world when I listened to him narrate The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  I find myself always picking audio books that are for long and complex novels.  Something about listening to complex novels vs. reading them makes them more approachable for me.  When I finished listening to The Millennium Trilogy I immediately began searching out my next audio book.  I was hearing a lot of mixed things about a book by Haruki Murakami, 1Q84.  The book was originally published as three novels in Japan and was translated and compiled as one book upon its release in the US.  When I read the plot summary I was immediately drawn into what I knew would be an intriguing journey.  That journey turned out to be more complex than I thought, and instead of summarizing the plot and trying to explain it myself, I’ve decided to let Goodreads do it for me:

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

There is no question that Murakami is an awesomely talented writer.  He is able to weave several peoples’ lives across time and space with this completely unique storyline.  While the concept was awesome and unique, its execution fell flat for me.  I understand that it was originally published as three novels and translated and published as one, but even when taking that in to account a good 30% could have been cut out.  By the end of the book I wanted to rip my hair out with the constant repetition of dialogue.  One character would make a statement, “You’re being watched.”  The other person would respond, “I”m being watched?” To which the first person would again repeat, “You’re being watched.”  After 40+ hours of dialogue like that, I’m sure it’s easy to understand my frustration.

The narration of the novel by Alison Hiroto and Marc Vietor was well done.  I enjoyed their renditions and felt closer to both Aomame and Tengo as a result of it.  The only part of their narrations that threw me off a bit was their pronunciations of the names of characters/places present in both of their stories.  Vietor’s pronunciation of Aomame was different than Hiroto’s, which confused me slightly the first few times I heard it.  However, besides that snag, the different tones they each used to represent different characters helped alleviate any confusion when the dialogue were being read.

So, despite the lackluster ending and multiple plot holes left open I still enjoyed taking the journey with Aomame and Tengo.  I wouldn’t be opposed to trying another of Murakami’s novels, but I definitely won’t attempt another of his works at this length.

3 out of 5 Stars

This is my first completed review for the Audio Book Challenge

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Brilliance Audio (2011)
CD: 46 hours, 46 minuts
ISBN: 9781455830503