If the title 1Q84 doesn’t already have you intrigued, there is something wrong with you. Is it just a mash of unrelated characters, a name or a code with much deeper meaning? I’m not going to tell you what 1Q84 means. If you’re really that anxious to know, you can go look up the whole plot on Wikipedia, you bad person.
Regardless of what 1Q84 means, it is undoubtedly the title of Haruki Murakami’s masterfully written mega-novel. Sold in three parts or as a complete anthology, 1Q84 will distort your perception of time and space and make you reconsider the boundaries between fiction and reality.
Set in the city of Tokyo in 1984 (hint hint), 1Q84 opens with a young woman named Aomame climbing down an emergency stairwell of a busy highway. This random act changes the course of her life and the very reality in which she exists. Aomame is a fitness instructor specialized in muscular relief and massage. Although her exterior exudes nothing out of the ordinary, Aomame is secretly killing men who have battered or abused women, often their wives and children. She uses a specialized technique that leaves no trace. The deaths are perceived as heart attacks, until her last and most important target’s death is correctly uncovered as murder. She is forced to go into hiding as more and more truths unravel around her.
Simultaneously, Tengo, a cram school instructor and burgeoning fiction writer, is sucked into a scheme to win a prestigious literary award by his editor Komatsu. A strange young girl named Fuka-Eri wrote a story called “Air Chrysalis” that needs to be rewritten by Tengo in order to be considered for a prestigious literary prize. Tengo has no idea of the scope of action his rewriting of “Air Chrysalis” will have on the world around him.
The plot of 1Q84 grows deeper and more entwined as the connections between Aomame and Tengo become apparent. The book is written in alternating chapters narrated by both Aomame and Tengo, allowing the reader to gain personal insight into both of their unique stories. 1Q84 isn’t a novel about good triumphing over evil, but rather a commentary on the balance of powers in the universe at any given moment. The elements of fantasy serve to enrich the plot and broaden the reader’s minds to envelope the mysterious world around us. 1Q84 will leave you looking up into the night sky, wondering where and what you are.