I stumbled across his "Hard-Boiled Wonderland" book on a wikipedia page. Considering the author's popularity, it was a unique way of finding him. I liked the sound of the novel, the author was dubbed "Kafka's successor". It was a very surreal work, compared to his most popular non-surreal "Norwegian Wood". 1Q84 is in his surrealist works, too. The only novel that he's done that isn't is NW. As far as I'm aware, there are 3 books for 1Q84. I've got a copy with the first 2 of the books in 1 physical book. I'm going to be talking about book 1, which was a real slog and an abandoned ship.
Laying my cards on the table; I've read a lot of Murakami. This might just be my 6th or 7th. This is hailed by some as his magnum opus. It's big enough to at least be hailed as something. Some people say it has a "complex and surreal narrative". It wasn't complex. That's why I read so much of his stuff. It's something you can read on a bus, or pick up for 5 minutes here and there. I'm not saying it's cheap rubbish, it's just got a simple prose, interesting characters, etc.
If, like me, you've read a lot of this guy, and you are actually interested in reading other books, you'll find this stale. It's the same recycled characters. The same pace in all his books. You can read a few hundred pages in 1Q84 and it doesn't really say anything. It's just like his other stuff, but drawn out. I'm being very unfair. I didn't even get half way through one of the books.
After those few hundred pages, I felt my efforts weren't helping me to "get to grips with contemporary Japanese culture", or any of the praises this book and Murakami gets. In a way, it was no more than two adventure stories with a tad of surrealism mixed in with pop culture references. It wasn't bad. It's just overly stale if you're used to it.
To conclude, I'll come back to it. I'll read a few hundred pages more of that monotonous dialogue, irrelevant plot "filler", and then I'll no doubt have to read the other two books in this series. Perhaps it gets good -- but how much do you have to read of it before that happens? If I want to read a large book, I always have Tolstoy.