Regular price: $39.95
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for $39.95
I'm always in search of the longest audiobooks I can find, since I usually read both my credits' worth before the end of the month. At almost 47 hours, this one fit the bill and had excellent reviews so I gave it a shot even though I wasn't familiar with the author or book. I'm glad I did. The book (I think it was originally 3 books in Japan) kept me absorbed from beginning to end. It's a very unique idea and I loved the story-within-a-story aspect. Interestingly, nearly all the characters are kind of one-dimensional, from a traditional literary point of view. The characters don't change much from the beginning to the end, which is something I was always taught to avoid in writing, but it works here because (without giving spoilers) the story itself changes around the characters. Instead of the world being stable and the characters moving through it, the characters are the fixed point of reference. Because it's just a little off traditional storytelling techniques, it makes the story feel unique above and beyond the plot itself.
The writing is also vivid and excellent. It's the type of writing where you have to pause occasionally and really take in a phrase that hits you just the right way. Another reviewer commented on the phrase "shaken his heart from a strange angle," which is one that I loved, too. I was also very taken with the phrase "Bright words make the eardrums vibrate brightly." It's such an odd phrase, when looked at literally, but you instinctively know what it means. The whole book is peppered with that kind of language. The author, obviously, takes primary responsibility for this, but the translators also did a great job. I'm not really sure how the translation process works, but I suspect there were spots where they added small explanations to ease the reading of unfamiliar concepts. They also did a great job with the occasional idiom or slang word. It was so well-done that I felt less culture-shock than I have with some books that are written in English to begin with. (There's a bonus interview with the narrators at the end if you want to hear their perspective.)
There are a couple of things that I disliked. The first was, as others have mentioned, the female narrator. It was kind of bizarre - when she is voicing the main character she does fine. She has a pleasant voice that effectively conveyed emotion. When she was voicing some of the other characters, however, it's almost like instead of changing the timbre of her voice she just changed how slowly she talked. The elderly dowager, in particular, sounded similar to a computer reading text. Her speech was very slow, oddly emphasized, and emotionless. In some books with a narrator that talks too slowly I just speed up the playback, but it wasn't possible since the slow alternated with normal speech. My other complaint is that I would have liked it to be about 30 minutes longer and tell us what happened concerning a few supporting plotlines. I'm not saying that every loose end needs to be tied up - I think this is a cultural thing because I've noticed that American books and movies tend to completely resolve all stories and foreign ones don't... I ordinarily accept it as part of the style. But the way it was written, several secondary storylines were building towards a climax and then just disappeared. It felt like when you think you're going to sneeze and then you don't. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll give a made up example: It would be like saying that someone's dog had run away and they got a call from the pound saying there was a dog that might be theirs so they get in the car and go to the pound, and then the story switches to another character and never comes back to tell you if the dog was theirs or not.
Despite my two small complaints, the book is undoubtedly one of the best I've listened to recently and (especially if you like long books) you should not hesitate before getting and reading this book!
24 of 25 people found this review helpful
This was my first book by Haruki Murakami, and it was an extraordinary experience. At one point in the book, while discussing one of the main characters, it states that something "Had shaken his heart from a strange angle". And I think that's a good description of how this book affected me. It shook my heart from a strange angle.
I've never read a book quite like this one; it was unique. It has a certain moral ambiguity to it, especially in the first half. This caught me off guard and was unsettling, but it did fade to a much lesser issue as the story progressed.
The story weaves common threads throughout the book; opening up questions on themes of loneliness, the vacuums left by people or loss (and whether these can or should be filled), both the damage and comfort of religion, how our childhood scars affect us as adults (and how much power we should allow them to have) and the very thin line - the delicate balance - between Right and Wrong, Good and Bad.
Mostly, however, the book is a deep mystery that pulls you into it's dark running current and carries you along. I know some of the other reviews did not appreciate or enjoy Ms. Hiroto's narration, but I loved it and couldn't imagine the story without it. I thought it was exquisite, as was the performance of the other narrators as well.
The stunning, stark, simple honesty that was the hallmark of any conversation held by the character of Tengo was my favorite aspect of the book. It's hard to describe, but the character always speaks and replies to questions with no pretense, no pride... it really impacted me.
Especially towards the second half of the book, there were sudden twists of humor that were a welcome gift; inspiring short, unexpected guffaws.
Yes, the book can be unsettling on many levels; but it's also very impactful. I'll never forget my time in 1Q84, under the two moons.
164 of 178 people found this review helpful