First Sentence: “I wonder if you would mind not smoking, Mr. Ushikawa,” the shorter man said.
Book 3 of 1Q84 continues on from where book 2 left off, covering the period between October and December in 1Q84. It opens with Ushikawa talking to the dead leader’s bodyguards, discussing how he will help them track down Aomame. The first noticeably different thing about this book is the structure. Where Books 1 and 2 followed the Aomame/Tengo, Aomame/Tengo viewpoints, chapter by chapter, in Book 3 we are given a third viewpoint, that of Ushikawa, so the chapters switch from Ushikawa to Aomame to Tengo and back again throughout. The story itself pretty much continues in the same vein as the first two installments and if you enjoyed them, chance are you’ll enjoy this. We watch as Tengo and Aomame grow gradually closer to meeting each other and watch as Ushikawa tries to hunt down Aomame on behalf of Sakigake. Time, and the passing of time, along with the daily rituals and routines we all fall into is the major theme in this book:
Inside him, twenty years dissolved and mixed into one complex, swirling whole. Everything that had accumulated over the years – all he had seen, all the words he had spoken, all the values he had held – all of it coalesced into one solid, thick pillar in his heart, the core of which was spinning like a potter’s wheel.
How much time had passed? Five minutes, perhaps, or was it an hour? Or a whole day? Or maybe time had stood still. What did Tengo understand about time?
While Aomame is in hiding, waiting for Tengo to find her, she even starts reading Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. This book is hard to separate from books 1 and 2 and really it shouldn’t be. All three together combine for a massively enjoyable reading experience. If you can find the time…
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Last Sentence: Until it was nothing more than a gray paper moon, hanging in the sky.
Last Sentence explained: Ushikawa gets close to finding Aomame and ruining her reunion with Tengo, but Tamaru, the dowager’s bodyguard, kills him before he gets a chance to do so. (Even pretending to be from the New Japan Foundation for the Advancement of Scholarship and the Arts cannot save him.) After he is killed, the Little People come out of his mouth and start to build an air chrysalis but that is beside the point. In the end, the important thing, is that Aomame and Tengo manage to leave 1Q84 hand in hand by climbing back up the ladder Aomame climbed down in the first place. Aomame is pregnant with Tengo’s child at this stage, the conception somehow happening on the night of the thunderstorm when the Leader was killed and Tengo had intercourse with Fuka-Eri. The final scene is the two of them, Tengo and Aomame, looking out a window at the morning moon as the sun robs it of its brilliance. It is the only moon in the world where they now reside. (Presumably our world.) So yes, in the end, they end up together and are awaiting the birth of their child, but a part of me likes the idea of them not ending up together…(As Tengo thinks earlier on in the book):
Wasn’t it better if they kept this desire to see each other hidden within them, and never actually got together? That way, there would always be hope in their hearts. That hope would be a small, yet vital flame that warmed them to their core – a tiny flame to cup one’s hands around and protect from the wind, a flame that the violent winds of reality might easily extinguish.
Either way, together or apart, Masami Aomame and Tengo Kawana will not be forgotten in a hurry…
Sample quotes from the book:
“As much as he might try to lose himself in a crowd, he was as inconspicuous as a centipede in a cup of yoghurt.”
“The girl had a certain illogical something that shook him. The same feeling as the moment at twilight when a mysteriously colored beam of light conjures up a special memory.”