Information is everything in Hard-boiled Wonderland. A specialist encrypter is attacked by thugs with orders from an unknown source, is chased by invisible predators, and dates an insatiably hungry librarian who never puts on weight. In the End of the World a new arrival is learning his role as dream-reader. But there is something eerily disquieting about the changeless nature of the town and its fable-like inhabitants. Told in alternate chapters, the two stories converge and combine to create a novel that is surreal, beautiful, thrilling and extraordinary.
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I liked the idea of 2 narrators but one of them was just too much. Felt like he overpowered the story.
unexpected original storyline...and unicorns...everything I never knew I wanted...great book I highly recommend to those looking for a journey in Japan and the end of the world
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.
Okay, So this is my second completed Murikami book. I really am torn by this author. His writing style absolutely puzzles me at times. The first Murikami book I read was 1Q84. A book that while parts of it were very unneseccary in my opinion, it left me really really moved and I consider it a favorite of mine. I was really hoping for the same level of 'dualism' that was present in 1Q84. To a certain extent there was.
My biggest complaint with Hard Boiled Wonderland (HBW) is that it falls into so many cliches and cheesy dialogue that really distracts from the story. I'll cite two examples. The first is that Murikami flirts with perversion way too much for my liking. His women are these overly sexual cliches that create distracting literary potholes. I'm reading, enjoying the normal sensible dialogue, then he goes off on a tangent describing women's panties, sexual habits, the main character's hidden sexual desires, fetishes, etc.. All of this is fine...IF it had any bearing on the story. Forgive me for any spoilers:
The grandfather's daughter makes numerous advances and these completely unrealistic ways of hinting that she wants to sleep with the main character. This leads to some pretty unrealistic, cheesy dialogue that just makes me groan. The same crap was done in 1Q84. Larges parts of that book were designated to completely unneeded scenes of sexual perversion that had absolutely no effect on the story.
Murikami does this far too often, and to be honest, it's annoying and really takes away from the story.
Anyway onto the good parts! What I did enjoy with this story is that it presents two completely different stories up front. In fact not only are they different characters and places, but even the writing style is different. One is written in a more straight forward fiction novel. That has very faint traces of cyber punk/ dystopia themes. (color me interested already!) The other story is written more like an allegory, where the use of metaphors is common and the characters talk in cliched tones. I was very off put by this storyline at first, as I thought the characters were all just overly cool motifs that were trying to be wise and mysterious. I think this was more of an issue with me, because of the narrator, who made every character in the other 'world' sound like a chain smoker... Anyway, once I began reading a bit longer, and I saw where the over all story was going, I realized that there was a point to all of this, which actually makes sense. Kudos to Murikami for the creativity on this one. Both stories are very much linked. Murikami does indeed have a way of bringing two seemingly separate stories together nicely.
That being said, I don't think he went far enough. Tying everything together I'd have liked to see a stronger link and some wrapping up of the main character and his...other side. I get the concept of leaving it to the imagination, but c'mon! Things end pretty abruptly, and not even an epilogue! Anyway I enjoyed the book... but I'd have loved to see more interaction between the worlds. I thought this might actually be the case, where the character does something in one world, and it effects the other character is his 'world'. (i'm a sucker for cross world/dimension/time interaction and effects)
An enjoyable storyline, marred by Murikami's usual babbling, If you enjoy a surrealism, with a pinch of cyberpunk,
Librarian, father, fantasy fool and tech enthusiasts.
First time I didn't get in to it, but it was so worth to try again... I now think this book is a little masterpiece!
Murakami does creepy both fun and relatable
the dreamline aspect of the story (or is that dream within dream?)
there was only one real character and a few undeveloped side ones.
INKlings? The professor? The librarian perhaps for selfish reasons?
I'm not sure-- I don't think the narrators had a lot to work with because the book itself wasn't very interesting.
No-- I have liked several of Murakami's later books (including Kafka on the Shore, which is like this book but 10 times more compelling).
See additional comments for the things that bothered me about this book... if you don't understand/care about science, and if you never think about books through a feminist lens, I think you could enjoy this book. I did not enjoy it.
The heart of the plot is a concept Murakami made up that is based on what he calls "neurophysiology." But it isn't neurophysiology at all, it is made up philosophical pseudoscience, and as a neurobiologist it was REALLY boring to read about. People who are more informed about computer science than I am might say the same thing about the more technological aspects of the book. Overall, it felt like a 3rd rate interpretation of Godel, Escher, Bach.
The female characters in the book also really bothered me. I'm not trying to be overly feminist here, but they were totally flat and mostly there to be talked about in an overtly sexual manner. For example, one character was exclusively referred to as "the chubby girl" and her only personality trait was constantly requesting to have sex with the narrator. It was really annoying and boring to read about this dude assessing the bodies of all these women and whether he could get an erection for them (yes, really, that happens). I don't recall feeling this way about Kafka on the Shore and Wind-Up Bird Chronicles; all the female characters in those books also have sex with the main character (surprise!), but they are also interesting/mysterious and evolve somewhat throughout the novel.
Murakami's prose can be absolutely beautiful, even in translation. In the End of the World portion, his description of the golden-fleeced unicorns is amazing, very realistic and un-Disneyesque. In the Hard-boiled portion, the story takes on a "noir-ish" quality and his protagonist is a down-to-earth everyman. The story is confounding, like a puzzle with many pieces that don't quite fit, but nevertheless very compelling. I read this about a year ago, so I've lost a lot of the small bits, but the feeling of the book has stayed with me. That's my definition of a good book - unforgettable.
While reading this, it occurred to me that, "oh, this is like Alice in Wonderland" in which Alice goes to a dreamlike place where things don't quite make sense in the "real" world. Then I remembered the title, so I guess that isn't amazing insight on my part.
I've read 2 other Murakami books, Kafka on the Shore and The Windup Bird Chronicle, both of which kept me reading Murakami, but neither as unforgettable as HBW&EOW. I like breaks between reading his books, but I think I'm ready for another now.
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