Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I really enjoyed this book, though, as you can tell from other reviews online, it's not a novel for every taste. Let me put it this way: if you like the films of Hiyao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke), and relish a few dashes of metaphysics, literary/movie/music references, and existentialism, then Murakami's mix of fantasy, surreality, and realism might speak to you. If not, you'll probably be frustrated with the listening/reading experience. (If you don't know Hiyao Miyazaki, then get ye to Netflix first, then come back here.)
On the surface, the book has two intertwining stories. One is about a 30-something loner guy with slacker tendencies and cyberpunkish skills who lives in Tokyo and takes a job with an eccentric scientist, a choice which soon sets off a cascade of strange consequences. This is interleaved with a second story, in which a man with no memory finds himself trapped in a fantastical, dreamlike town, trying to make sense of its fable-like inhabitants and his reasons for being there. As the novel progresses, the two stories begin to intersect. While "magic realism" is a genre that can really fly off the rails sometimes (see Mark Helprin's A Winter's Tale), Murakami keeps his story readable and grounded in a coherent flow of events.
This is one of those books where (in my opinion), you'll enjoy it more if you don't expect the author’s stew of ideas and imagery to make perfect sense or try to analyze his science and philosophy too much. Yes, there are a few logic holes and not everything in the surface-level plot gets resolved in an obvious way. Rather, this is a novel to read for its oddball characters, the vision of the writing, the strange-but-fitting twists and turns of the story, the humorous juxtaposition of the surreal and the everyday, and the existential questions under its fanciful trappings. If you had only 36 hours to live, what would you do with the time? I found the way Murakami chose to answer this question unexpectedly moving. Even with the end of the world coming, you might still have to do laundry...
I enjoyed the narration and voice-acting in the audiobook. The main character's voice reminded me of Spike from Cowboy Bebop, which (in my world) was a bonus.
This was my first Murakami, and I've since read Kafka on the Shore. I enjoyed both, but this is the one that's lingered more in my imagination. I enjoyed listening to it, but it's been the 'aftertaste,' the lingering effect of its mystery, that I've especially enjoyed. I don't know whether I'll literally re-read it, but I've certainly done so already in my daydreams.
The back and forth is striking. It's a feature I wasn't used to in an audiobook. I don't know how well others would pull it off, but they complement each other very well.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
Left-brain/Right-brain; Up/Down; Awake/Asleep; Self/Shadow; Life/Death -- this novel is a twisted carnival mirror of the mind. So it is fitting that I both loved and hated it. I loved it for its absurd brilliance and hated it for its brilliant absurdity. Murakami's novels are always risking absurdity and death. He is adventurous, clever, silly and serious and he manages to pull it all off at once. The closest analogy I can make is the novel seems constructed to both produce the literary equivalence of consonance AND dissonance at the same time; two stories but three harmonics that seem to play with the arrival, rest, and resolution of my consciousness.
I am a 27 year old nurse pursuing a nurse practitioner degree. My favorite book genres are: fantasy, science fiction, medicine and sociology
Wow, this was an awesome listen. I became a Murakami fan after listening to "1q84" and this was my second Murakami title. I am just as impressed. I found the story riveting, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next.
From the very start, the main character is introduced in full disclosure of all his neurotic, quirky traits. The coin counting, the immediate racing worries regarding the elevator being stuck, and everything else just makes him likable. He isn't like me at all, yet he is relatable, because I have my own weird eccentric quirks and habits. He is not an obnoxious caricature of a person.
The story involves a break from reality of sorts, in which suddenly, strange phenomena is described and we learn of unusual brain implants that the main character had, which exposed him to the domino effect of all that occurs within the story. The tale jumps between the eccentric, colorful man we are first introduced to, to a flat, droll, somewhat lifeless man in a gray and eerie landscape. We begin to learn how these two men are connected, and there is much symbolism and concepts of what consciousness, souls, reality and existence really are.
I don't want to spoil it, so all I will say is, it is a great listen and a fantastic book. Also, the very last few sentences (the bird flying off into the sky lines) really hit me for some reason, tears ran down my cheeks, I felt an eerie understanding of the soul and was reminded of one of my favorite quotes, by Herman Hesse, "The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must destroy a world. The bird flies to God." That is one of my favorite quotes, and it felt strange to see something so reminiscent of it in the ending of Murakami's book, and it left me thinking about the story for days after finishing it.
Murakami's books are often categorized in "Sci-Fi/Fantasy", but I believe that is mis-labeling. I have read (well, listened to) "Kafka on the shore", "1Q84", "Wind-up bird chronicle", and "Dance, Dance, Dance", and they are not SF, in my opinion - they have core elements other than SF.
However, this book actually reads like SF. The characters actually spend time trying to explain why all these can make sense scientifically (up to a point). But, to me, that's not Murakami's strength, and his effort to build "rational" aspects of the story was wasted as far as I was concerned. Despite this, I could enjoy many of the Murakami's usual funny, scary, sad, and sweet exchanges among the characters. I should also point out the contrast of the vastly different voice characteristics of the two narrators was effective in delivering the two parallel stories that converge towards the end. My favorite Murakami book is still "Kafka on the shore", but this book does add to my understanding of Murakami's paths and style.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
While I’m not sure of the original publication date, the English title came out in 1991. Over twenty years old, this makes it one of Murakami’s earlier works and it feels that way.
While many of the author’s works might be considered fantasy, this one is more science fiction. Though, while I continue not to understand why many folks insist on always combining the two genres, this selection clearly has elements of both. There’s everything from unicorns to moving between worlds. How exactly, outside the author’s own “mind,” the latter takes place, I am not sure.
Beginning this new year, I decided to be more dedicated than ever to reading worthwhile books and not books just to pass (kill) time. Here, in this Murakami selection, I have failed miserably. For me, too much time is spent in the book with everyday character machinations and not enough time developing the mechanisms for reconciling the two worlds contained in it. Too much license is taken by the author to leave it to the reader’s own imagination. As a result, the books comes off as immature and not the product of a intelligent, well-seasoned writer portrayed in his later works.
Narration-wise, I believe the reading outperformed the writing.
The Kid D
No spoilers in this review -- important as this book is full of surprises.
It gives nothing away to say that there are two side-by-side realities in this novel, neither of which is the one we live in. Or think we live in, which is a major theme of Hardboiled Wonderland.
If you only read one Murakami novel, this may not be the place to start (I'd recommend Kafka by the Shore). But Murakami enthusiasts should love this one. So should those interested in depth psychology.
There's little actual violence in this one, at least compared to, say, Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Not the same as no violence, but nothing that horrified me.
Without giving anything away, I should note that the ending of this book keeps opening up in your mind long after you finish the novel. In short, it's not over when you get to the end.
The favorite Murakami character, a regular man with no ambition to be noted, find himself in two bizarre words at the same time
The first HM book that didn't draw me in and engage me. It has that familiar weird charm and hey this book even has an ending that I'm going to pass as a satisfying resolution (Murakami is often happy to leave loose ends reeeaaallly loose).
I still really enjoyed HM's writing and it kept me interested enough to get through the book in a week or so but putting fantasy aside, I couldn't buy into the insufficiently fleshed out story about the Data War between the Calcutecs and the Semiotecs. It was all just too vague and ethereal to me. This and the underground world of the Inklings that seemed to have no real point kept my engagement at arms length. I floated through this part of the story looking for something solid to hang onto but it was just all so wispy and aloof.
I finished the book feeling like maybe I'd rushed through reading it and I'd missed something blindingly obvious. I'll probably revisit this one in a few years to see if the second times a charm.
I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. The casual way in which Murakami illustrates the incredible and fantastical happenings is enthralling. Also, the dual voice actors really add to the contrast between alternating stories in alternating chapters.
I think that the closest thing I've read would have to be Snakes and Earrings and I believe they are similar just by style and maybe Japanese voice. Things seem to just happen to the main characters rather than them playing a strong active role.
I have not, but they did an excellent job with the characters of this book.
Its interesting because he is not anyone extraordinary, but I think the main character just because you are constantly witnessing the incredible happenings from his eyes.