Archive for February, 2014

1Q84: Books 1 and 2 – Haruki Murakami

IQ84Title: 1Q84: Books 1 and 2

Author: Haruki Murakami

Date Finished: 26/2/14

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

It is so refreshing to read a book which is completely and totally unique in every way and this is what 1Q84 was for me.  The setting is Tokyo in 1984 and there are two narrators – one called Aomame who is essentially a moral contract killer and Tengo who is a part time teacher and part time author.  As the book progresses we learn lots more about each of these two lonely people and start to find out what links them together and how current events affect them.  I really don’t want to give anything anyway so I won’t say any more!

The plot is really gripping – the two books are combined in one volume of 805 pages, yet the story reads beautifully easily and you just keep turning over the pages.  It is as equally gripping as some thrillers I have read yet just as detailed and poignant as some classics I’ve read!  It even has recurring imagery and motifs, some more hidden than others that are interesting to spot.  The story really develops as you go through the book – at the start everything seems quite normal but by the end it is all looking rather fantastical!  I have to say, the cliffhanger ending has definitely made me desperate to read the final book – I have already ordered it from Foyles.

The characters are so unique and due to the level of detail and length of the book you really feel like you have got to know them.  Tengo and Aomame are both quite unusual and have lots of hidden secrets and stories which are slowly revealed and explain why they are the way that they are as adults.  You also get to know quite a few other brilliant and mesmerising characters like Fuka-Eri, Ayumi, The Professor, Komatsu etc etc who are all equally engaging.

I really liked the setting of Tokyo, since I have never read anything set in Japan before although the places mentioned didn’t mean anything to me.  I would like to visit Japan at some point.  The prose is actually exquisite, which surprised me slightly, with it being a work in translation; amazing job done by the translator Jay Rubin!!  I think the last book is translated by a different person, so I will have to see how they compare.

Overall, I have loved reading this book and I am eagerly anticipating my delivery of book 3.  I really recommend this book to you, although it is quite dark in some places it is very very good indeed and completely different to anything I have come across before.

As You Like It – William Shakespeare

as you like itTitle: As You Like It

Author: William Shakespeare

Date Finished: 31/01/14

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club 

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

I always try to read the play before seeing the performance when it comes to Shakespeare, and as I’m seeing As You Like It at the Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol in March, I thought I’d better read it now.  I enjoyed it, even though I did get slightly confused as I also went to see our school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this week.

The plot is of course very silly and farcical and unrealistic but it’s meant to be this way – surely no-one now or in the 1600s would have really believed that a boy dressed up as a girl who was pretending to be a boy in minimal disguise would really fool anyone!  I can’t say I loved this plot quite as much as some of the other Shakespeare I’ve read but it was still enjoyable.

The characters are (for once) not too confusing to follow, apart from there being two Jaques (I only realised about 3/4 of the way through!) and I think all of the characters will really be brought to life for me when I see the play.  Rosalind is very memorable, if a bit silly but then who isn’t silly in Shakespeare’s comedies?  Again, the characters were good but didn’t rival my favourite characters in Much Ado About Nothing (my favourite Shakespeare so far)!

It was nice to have a French setting and the language was (unsurprisingly) amazing and I didn’t struggle to follow the story really.  As usual, I had my ladybird children’s, 60 page ‘Story from Shakespeare’ version alongside me just to read over after I’d read a few scenes to make sure I hadn’t missed any important details.  I recommend this play as it’s a nice short read and I am very much looking forward to seeing it performed next month.