Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami just can’t help coming back to the same characters. As with previous Murakami works like A Wild Sheep Chase and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the male protagonist is a single, passive and purposeless 20-something who spends an inordinate amount of time cooking alone before getting swept up in a fantastic mystery that borders on the supernatural. This time his name is Tengo. 1Q84 alternates chapters between Tengo’s point of view and that of Aomame, a beautiful personal trainer who assassinates abusive husbands and fathers in her spare time. Much of the novel’s first half is sprinkled with hints as to how the two characters are connected, and it becomes increasingly apparent that they are star-crossed lovers of Shakespearean ambition. In the great Murakami tradition, a conspiracy implicating a fanatic religious cult unfolds and things get weird. It is revealed that Tengo and Aomame have entered an alternate world—1Q84—and that Tengo’s ghostwriting project has disturbed some ancient evil. (Don’t ask.) Despite tons of heavy metaphysical dialogue, plenty of anticlimax and some generally disturbing shit, 1Q84 is Murakami’s magnum opus.