I’ve done it. After weeks of banging on about how incredible Marukami’s trilogy is, I’ve gone and finished it. Sadly.
I enjoyed books one and two immensely. Snuggled up in bed on wintry evenings, I was thrilled to be transported to the vibrant world of Tokyo and the captivating, near-addictive lifestyles of Tengo and Aomame. The will-they-won’t-they nature of their relationship, the strange connection between Fuka-Eri, Sakigake and the Little People. The disappearance of Tengo’s older married girlfriend. If there was one thing I wanted, it was answers.
Which was why I was eagerly racing through the first two volumes – I was desperate to learn more. But I got to the end. Finito. Nada. Absolutely nothing. I had expected a whirlwind of Tengo and Aomame battling to escape this alternate universe where anything was possible; or a savage manhunt lead by Sakigake in order to avenge the spilling of secrets. I would have liked some more answers, but I was left open-mouthed and staring in bewilderment at the empty pages.
However, I can understand why Marukami had taken such a mundane turn of events – because it wasn’t what the reader expected. In the final book, I expected an epiphany, but instead I was left with what I least expected. Normality. (apologies for being so vague, but I don’t want to spoil it for anybody) On the upside, Marukami had woven the story in such a way that there was no such thing as ‘normal’ – no logic, no reason… A universe in which truly anything can happen.
But don’t let my negativity about the ending prevent you from reading 1Q84. What I loved most was the drips of information that Marukami fed into the different perspectives from which the story was told (in books one and two, Tengo and Aomame, and in book three Ushikawa’s view is also told), and in my mind I was piecing the different tit-bits of information together in gleeful anticipation. I felt masterful; like I was watching over their lives and counting down the moments until the inevitable. Damn, I was so hyped.
The characters are also very strong – rather than a lot of novels, which give you bog-standard people and bung them into an alternate universe, the characters of Aomame and Ushikawa especially seemed as if they belonged to the world of 1Q84, owing to their *thinks of appropriate adjective* unique lifestyles.
In all, I’d give this whopper of a literary journey three point seven five stars – I loved Marukami’s writing, but I really really REALLY wanted to learn more, so I was left feeling peeved.
NOTE: I went to the Ustinov Studio in Bath yesterday to watch The One That Got Away, a fantastical French farce. Go. Watch it now, cry with laughter, and come away feeling *thinks of adjective beginning with f* FRESH. That so did not work out.