Sunday, August 25, 2013

Completed: 1Q84

Dear Jenny,

Whew! Finally closing in on it with July's book (And it's only August!)

True confession: I ended up listening to this one mostly via aBook because I knew I was never going to make the time to sit down and finish slogging through it. I am not a fan of this book, which is ironic because I may own more versions of it than any other book in my library. Wonder how? Let's break it down...
  1. Our first reference to reading this book together (via Subtext) was back in March 2012. Subtext required that the book be a Google Book, so I bought that version. I then discovered (as I was *boarding a flight*) that Google Books cannot be read offline (Is that still true?! Did I miss something and just failed to understand how to download the damned thing?!) so...
  2. I impulse-bought the Kindle version to read on the long flight. Didn't make it through it that time (of course) so...
  3. When I went to start it again for this TBR, I realized I could get a discount on the aBook because I had bought the Kindle eBook (which is actually kind of cool -- it tracks where you are, regardless of media, and picks up where you left off!) So I was able to listen to this during the day and read it in bed at night. Still... it's a 47 hour long aBook. I spent a *lot* of time with this book. 
This book is also notable because it is the first author re-visit I have done since we started the TBR in 2011. That year, I read The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, also by Murakami. My "review" was totally lame, except that ... I loved that book, and it shows in that write-up. I probably should have just quit then. You know, while I was ahead. Because this book? Not so much with the love.

And now... for my "review" of 1Q84. Which I may or may not (but actually totally do) refer to as "Boobs and Pubes" in my head.

The Good:
At the heart of it, it's a good story. It's a love story -- it's a little bit wacky, but overall, it's a good story about two kids who meet briefly in childhood and then spend of the rest of their lives trying to find one another again, each in their own way. There are some twists and turns along the way (including an alternate universe... interesting! Good!) and that -- the heart of this story, I really did like. However...

The Bad:
This book was originally released as three separate installments, and you can tell -- it could have used a serious re-edit once it was published as a single volume. There is a lot of re-visiting previous ground (which is great when you haven't read the preceding book in awhile, but not so great when you're reading it all in one go) and, in general, the story could just stand to be tightened up. So that was problematic. But... able to be handled. However. There was also...

The Ugly:
Boobs and Pubes. UGH! Why there was so much reference to breasts and pubic hair in this book, I have no frigging idea. It was a g-d obsession. Quick little searchy-search here finds...
  • Breasts: 77 results 
  • Nipples: 21 results 
  • Pubic hair: 21 results 
That is one boob mention per 9 pages and a pube reference every 44 pages. That's... A LOT.

There was hardly a mention of our heroine without a reference to the fact that she had small breasts and that one was slightly larger than the other. Jenny, I finished this book weeks ago and I still retain this information ... in my mind. You know how my mind is a sieve when it comes to books... and yet this I retain. Ugh!

Here is a small sampling of notes I made in this book:
"More unnecesary boob talk" on page 373. (At that point, I still had no idea how bad this was going to get!) 
"W.T.F." In response to this quote: "It was like her pubic hair was a part of her thinking process." [692] (Seriously. W. T. Everloving. F.) 
"Come ON." In response to the main female character (Aomame) reflecting on her two closest friends' deaths: "It saddened her to think that these women were forever gone from the world. And she mourned their lovely breasts -- breasts that had vanished without a trace." [916] 
I just... don't... I can't. It's just... weird. And such a bummer -- the story is interesting and bizarre and great on its own. But all of this gratuitous boob and pube talk left a bad taste in my mouth.

In the end, I would not recommend this book, but I stand by my love for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Don't waste your time with 1Q84 -- awkward to say the title out loud and super awkward to read, in any form.



  1. K,

    I always enjoy reading your reviews, but this one is going to go down as a classic.

    I must say, I'm glad I abandoned this book! Your notes are hilarious, but when reading the sentences you mentioned, I can't blame you. It has never before occured to me that when a woman dies, the thing I should mourn is the loss of her boobs. That's just weird, borderline offensive. Yuck.

    Meanwhile, the google play thing is not that you couldn't read it offline, but that you couldn't made subtext comments offline. You should have still been able to read the book! Subtext has fixed this offline problem, too, in the intervening time. Now it will save your comments and upload them later.

    Well! I hope the next book you have lined up is boob and pube free!

  2. I just looked at Google Books again and the "Download" button is clear as day. I swear it wasn't as obvious as I was boarding the plane. As I recall, this is when Google was making a big transition between Google Play and Play Books (which is what is now called) and I was kind of struggling with it at the time (the app replacement wasn't terribly smooth). Soooo... maybe that was my problem.

    I went to a book group last night where we had read Wind Up Bird Chronicle and 1Q84 came up. Of course, you know I gave the "Boobs and pubes" review. I should have warned the guy across the table -- there *may* have been some beer spit out at that moment. Oops.