Japanese author Murakami’s latest novel centres around Aomame, a self-defence instructor-turned-assassin who agrees to one final, important job. Yet though the story ultimately belongs to her, the action also involves another protagonist. A writer named Tengo Kawana has just started rewriting an imperfect novel by a beautiful, young woman nicknamed Fuka-Eri for a publisher who smells opportunity. As Aomame and Tengo move along parallel paths, their fates become entwined, and neither an armed cult nor baffling, otherworldly entities known as the Little People can stop their progress toward one another.
1Q84 is a yarn that, if not exactly enveloping, will keep readers under its spell for most of its 900-plus pages. Yet though the book has its dynamic and impressive moments, the propulsive lunacy of its most compelling events dissipates midway; the last half involves contemplation about the nature of evil with a minor character and a lot of waiting around. Murakami then disposes of the only real threat facing Aomame and Tengo without much of a fight.
While every trip in which the author plays the White Rabbit is fun, 1Q84 lacks the emotional and historical gravity that marks the author’s best work, and can’t quite manage to justify its sizeable girth.