The only Haruki Murakami book I read prior to 1Q84 is Kafka on the Shore. Like Kafka, 1Q84 alternates between narratives, and casts the protagonists as instruments of forces that they do not understand. The biggest difference between the two is about 700 pages.
Perhaps that’s unfair. The story in 1Q84 is distinct and its elements of mythology and metaphysical ponderings were entertaining and engaging. But the length was, in my opinion, a detriment to its overall strength. However, looking back, I can see that while the pacing of the novel as a whole was a slow trudge through the moors, the pacing of any individual chapter was a gentle walk down the road. If I could give one piece of advice on how to read this novel, it would be to read one or two chapters at a time, and then put the book down, go outside, run some errands, take a nap, and then read another one or two chapters. Unless you are completely in love with 1Q84, it won’t be an easy read if you try to go through it in long sittings (as I did).
One thing I’ve seen quite frequently in reviews and discussion about 1Q84 is how it changed people’s perspectives on (or at least got them thinking about) the nature of reality, the universe, etc. etc. While I certainly saw all those themes and ideas, I don’t think there’s any there that I haven’t come in contact with before. If this type of subject isn’t your usual fare, I think it will have a much more profound impact.
One question I hate answering is “Would you recommend it?” I don’t like making blanket recommendations. If you like long books (I’m talking nearly 1200 pages), if you like or are interested in reading books which question the nature of reality, of morality, of metaphysical existence, if you are okay with a slow pace, then I would recommend 1Q84. If you don’t fit one or more of those categories, then I probably wouldn’t.