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Showing 1-10 of 49 reviews(3 star). See all 471 reviews
Enthusiast: Mangaon January 6, 2014
Bottom Line First: My introduction to Haruki Murakami was 1Q84. 1Q84 (Vintage International) I was and am a huge fan of that work. Having read this one I understand why he is not universally popular. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World contains almost all of the same elements and structure of the later book and the language did keep me reading. I felt duty bound to finish it but I cannot report enjoying the method or the conclusion.
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It has been my habit to try and read the work of writers I enjoy in the order that there works were published. This technique allows you to follow the writer as their craft and world view matures. Often I read something recent that gets me interested, then I seek out the authors' first book and so forth. As of now, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is about as early an example of Murakami's work as I can find. If this had been my first of his books, I may never have looked at 1Q84.

In Hard Boiled World we have something of a Science Fiction meets hard boiled fiction similar in concept to The Man Who Knew Too Much. The unnamed narrator is a Calcutec which mean he has the ability to process and encode huge amounts of data directly in his sub-conscious. As in 1Q84 his world is radically changed once he goes -literally - down the rabbit hole - once again in the form of a latter down from an already fracturing reality. He is unknowing made the center of a huge experiment and spends ½ the book dealing with people in The System (literally called the System) the "Semiotecs" people who seek to destroy , or do bad things with data and a few other forces, some magical others who may or may not be friendly, (even if they systematically destroy his heavily secured apartment.

The ½ is also meant as a literal. In the other ½ of the story unfolds in chapters that alternate with the more conventional story line. This ½ tells us about something of a fantasy world. It is a rather dull grey place. It lacks memory, emotions or much of anything except the mystery of its existence and an evolving relation to the more conventional alternating story line. This world may be a satire on the dullness of being a modern corporate drone or it may just be the matching half of the battle for the mind of the narrator.

Murakami and his translator use language masterfully to tell a complex story. It is almost worth the read to enjoy the language. There are passages that invoke Cyber punk, western materialism, the concept of good and evil as two aspects of the same institutions and a variety of other thought provoking subjects. Consequently the discussion of all these themes and topics is brief rendering the grand themes trivial.

The book is too long. I get that a long miserable escape should be written to help the reader to share the misery, but it can be done with less tedious detail. One fast example: everything related to the leeches could have been deleted at no cost to the story line. The "Inklings" are an interesting set of foul creatures, but why they are necessary, except as a icky Macguffin is another good question.
ALMOST A SPOILER:

The ending is something of a Lady and the Tiger meets Frankenstein kind of situation. I can understand part of why the narrator makes his choice. What he chooses makes no sense.

I have not given up on Murikami, But Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is not a title I can recommend.
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on January 15, 2016
I'm a huge fan of Murakami's and it may make all the difference in what order you read him in. But after reading "Wind Up Bird Chronicle" first, everything else he's written feels somehow lesser. He has wonderful prose, and all his translations into English seem to retain that beauty, but this is not nearly as thought provoking as Wind up Bird or 1Q84 or Kafka on the Shore, three of his novels that I felt were far stronger. Wind UP Bird Chronicle in particular would be in my top books of all time. This was interesting but the rhythms were not nearly as refined, nor the revelations as deep.
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on September 12, 2014
I love Murakami and I enjoyed this book, but to me it was not one of his better efforts. His best books combine the magical-realist elements with a real, relatable humanity; in his best books, I feel he's tapping into (my) deep human needs and worries and making them concrete in the form of these odd little fantasy worlds, answering questions I didn't even know I was asking. Perhaps because the "real" world in the book (or anyway the world that seemed more real) was also rather sci-fi, I didn't relate to either world as much as usual. There is an odd and interesting inversion here, in that the world that appears in the book to be the fictional one is in some ways the more natural and familiar.

Yet there is still that sense--for me so powerful and troubling--of another presence nibbling around the edges of your consciousness, trying to draw your attention to another (deeper?) reality. It's powerful stuff, but not my favorite Murakami.
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on November 24, 2015
I hate to even admit it, but if this book wasn't so short it probably would've been the first Murakami book I put down and didn't finish. I have read Wind up Bird Chronicle (my first and still favorite), Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, and 1Q84, and this was the only one I got done and kinda went "eh". It wasn't anything special. Found the story to be a bit thin and the character development (especially parts like the "inklings", Semiotecs, etc) to be non-existent. Maybe that was the point and I'm not smart enough to get it??? I love Haruki Murakami, this just was not my favorite.
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on September 26, 2015
I wish I could have liked this book better than I did. I heard so much about the author that I may have been expecting too much. Murakami seems to have a cult following and most of the Kindle reviews have given this book five stars. Still, the book never grabbed me. The characters are so thinly drawn that I cared very little for how things turned out for them, and the double plot lines weren't so much confusing as they were annoying to follow. Just not my cup of tea, I guess, although I will probably read another of Murakami's books just to make sure.
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on June 4, 2012
I wanted to read the author's newest book but followed others' people's advice in reviews to read start with another piece. For the first third or half of the book I was thoroughly confused. I was better able to enjoy the characters and the strangeness of the story when I stopped trying to understand what was going on. I figured it would all come together in the end. And it did, sort of. Probably this is one of the books that needs to be read more than once to fully appreciate but it the end it just might be worth it.
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on April 30, 2014
I am a big fan of Haruki Murakami's book, just not this one. I thought that the dialogue was forced and excessive at times, the plot was thin and drawn out and I wasn't a fan of the ending. I am looking forward to starting "Dance Dance Dance," a follow-up to "A Wild Sheep Chase." This book was not one that I would read again if I had it to do over.
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on April 19, 2016
It's definitely a book worth reading to see if you like the author's style. He is creative and very descriptive. I felt a loss at the end of his stories, in feeling no closure with the characters.
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on August 27, 2016
Not Murakami's best work. I enjoy his writing and he always puts a lot into his characters so it has redeeming qualities but the plot itself is pretty weak.
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on October 21, 2016
Is an iteresting read in true Murakami style. For me it started to slow and was difficult to keep interest in it at times.
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