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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
This is a beautiful book written in Murakami's usual lyrical style that brilliantly conveys the depths and complexities of the human consciousness. It is best described as a combination of genres, including fantasy, science-fiction and detective story, but really it is about one man's journey of self-discovery when he learns that the End of the World is near...
Published on 4 Aug 2003 by AR

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forced
Having read, and enjoyed The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Murakami, I was expecting something equally as good from this book, but I was rather disappointed.

Simply put, the book feels forced and pretentious. Not necessarily the storyline, but the flow of ideas. It feels as if Murakami has found an idea he wants to put across, then works backwards, constructing a...
Published on 25 Feb 2008 by Iivex Elucid


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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, 4 Aug 2003
By 
AR (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Paperback)
This is a beautiful book written in Murakami's usual lyrical style that brilliantly conveys the depths and complexities of the human consciousness. It is best described as a combination of genres, including fantasy, science-fiction and detective story, but really it is about one man's journey of self-discovery when he learns that the End of the World is near.
Murakami easily combines two stories that are full of surprises and compliment each other perfectly as the book progresses. The alternating chapters make the book easy to read and they also prove Murakami to be a skilled storyteller, as he so cleverly narrates two parallel tales. His characters are a group of striking individuals that seem at once fantastical and very real. Murakami's descriptions of a man evaluating his life and musing on what he has lost are engrossing and interesting, as well as fresh and inspired.
I loved this book and couldn't wait to start reading it again each time I put it down. I chose this book after having read another novel, Norweigan Wood, by the same author. Having read and truly loved both novels I would recommend Murakami as a brilliant and poetic storyteller with a fantastic imagination. This book is something different and definitely worth reading, even if it's not your normal type of thing!
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two alternative universes for the price of one, 1 Mar 2006
This is the fourth or fifth Murakami book I've read, and quite easily the best after Norwegian Wood.
The book switches between two stories: a wonderfully curious and imaginative adventure through an alternative future-now Japan (Hard-Boiled Wonderland); and a mysterious exploration of a walled old city (the End of the World). The two stories eventually connect in a way that causes a wonderful collision of thoughts and questions in the reader's mind, but I won't give anything away by saying anything more.
Like all good dystopias, this is thoroughly well thought-through and researched; Kafkaesque comes to mind, as does Alice in Wonderland. But this is married with Murakami's postmodernist bent and a feeling that he's having as much fun as you are. Very enjoyable, totally escapist, and you'll want to dive back into this world once you've left it.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamscapes, 26 Feb 2007
By 
L. Cato (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Paperback)
This book is likely to have a profound effect on anyone that reads it. There are some dreams that have a bleakness about them, a sense of jepoardy and emptiness that carries right through to the next day. You wake feeling detached from the real world and sit for hours lost in your own thoughts. This book taps into that universal feeling, that world sadness that washes over us from time to time.

Murakami manages to draw you into a place that is so different from the mundane routines we inhabit and yet so familiar. This book is compelling, it is complex, it is the human psyche turned into a story. It is, above all, an amazing novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 9 April 2010
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This review is from: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Paperback)
To my mind, this is Murakami's best book. And considering the quality of work Murakami puts out, that is really saying something.

The story is divided into two parts: The hardboiled wonderland where our protagonist is immersed in a strange world of minds that are used as encryption keys and dangerous INKlings who live to steal important data; The end of the world, where our protagonist must separate from his shadow and learn to read dreams from the skull of the mysterious creatures who live around the town.

I don't want to give away too much more about the plot because it would spoil it. This is one of those books that you need to read for yourself without knowing too much about it at the start.

Murakami excels at description and writes in two entirely separate voices for the wonderland and the end of the world, painting such a vivid picture of each that it's impossible not to get completely absorbed.

Many of his usual themes run through this book: identity crisis, the id, love/lust, and his old favourite, reconcilling two halves of a whole (I'm sure there's a better way of describing that, but I hope those of you familiar with Murakami's work will know what I mean).

This book has pretty much everything. It's sci-fi, it's fantasy, part noir thriller, sprinklings of a love story. It's exciting, touching, poignant and, in places, very funny.

If you've never read any Murakami before, this is an excellent place to start. If you have, then this book should be your next stop.

It's even more rewarding with re-reads too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forced, 25 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Paperback)
Having read, and enjoyed The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Murakami, I was expecting something equally as good from this book, but I was rather disappointed.

Simply put, the book feels forced and pretentious. Not necessarily the storyline, but the flow of ideas. It feels as if Murakami has found an idea he wants to put across, then works backwards, constructing a story that leads to this final idea of accepting the end of the world. However, this story is like a cut-and-paste. Characters come in, concepts are thought up, and places made just to channel the character towards the final end. It's almost as if most of the pieces of the story have been put in place just because the writer CAN put them in. The pages are cluttered with unnecessary detours, leeches, climbing ladders and "information wars".

All this detracted from the book. Much like the unnecessary detour in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle where Manchuria is mentioned. That felt like it was put in just to make the book controversial in Japan. With Hard-Boiled Wonderland, it feels like the whole book was an unnecessary detour from the meaning, which was itself clearly evident at the end of the book, but came about with such lack of subtlety that any impact was lost.

In this book Murakami is about as subtle as a hammer. It's almost painful to read the way he tries to force the two worlds to come into some sort of contact with one another (i.e. through skulls) throughout the book. It's a shame really because I had high hopes for this book, but it may have tarnished my view of Murakami.

This book needs a May Kasahara.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit hard to get into, but in the end... lovely., 12 Jan 2009
By 
ladyguinevere (Aberdeen, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Paperback)
My husband gave me this book and Norwegian Wood as a gift when we first started dating. He said Hardboiled Wonderland was one of his favourite books of all time, and I had to read it. I had bought Kafka on the Shore first, and read it, and really enjoyed it, although I wasn't sure what to make of it really. Then I read Norwegian Wood. I hated it. I started wondering whether Murakami was really my style. Then I started reading Hardboiled Wonderland, and it really turned me off. He seemed completely obsessed with some 'fat' assistant, and that's all the beginning seemed to be about... So I put it down and didn't look at it for a while. Then I went through a spate of reading Victorian novels and got to a point where I was desperate for something more modern, and picked up Hardboiled Wonderland again... Once I got past the first few dozen pages, I started getting more and more caught up in the story. As with Kafka on the Shore, it involves two parallel worlds, and lots of wacky quirkiness ensues... but one of the worlds really drew me in with its strange ethereal dreamy quality. Like Kafka on the Shore, the ending was left a bit in the air, but somehow it felt more satisfying this time, and I was left with a really warm, fuzzy feeling at the end, of having just woken from a strange but lovely dream. I loved this book.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best example of Zany-Period Murakami, 16 Oct 2001
After the controlled realism of early-period Murakami (hard to get hold of in english), he moved into a self-conciously zany phase of writing - full of ultra-bizzare happenings and experimental plot twists. This is probably the best of those works (though 'A Wild Sheep Chase' comes a close second, with the yet-to-be-reissued 'Dance, Dance, Dance' in third place). I like this book, but like those other two it feels a little overloaded and slightly too unfocused, like he's getting something out of his system.
After these works, he wrote Norwegian Wood, in which he perfected the poised tragic realism he had written in before - and in doing so become a superstar in his native japan. He then moved on to 'third-period' Murakami, where he managed to counterpoint the weirdness of his second period properly with the sense of poised realism he had developed earlier in his early novels and "Norwegian Wood". This balancing act produced to my mind his greatest novel, "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles" - I'd recommend that above anything else, so long as you don't mind diving in at the deep end.
But if it's weird romps and postmodern games with genre styles you're after, then I'd say this and 'A Wild Sheep Chase' are the two to look out for.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Boiled Wonderland - Murakami, 4 Aug 2007
This review is from: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Paperback)
I've just finished this book, and i was hugely impressed with yet another slice of the immensley talented murakami's work.

Unicorns, conciousness, left and right brain...not something that initially would interest lots of people, but just for the sheer brilliance of how the two stories running parralell manage to intertwine, you must read this book.

I could fill this review with superlatives about the pace and atmosphere, but the way Murakami manages to display such imagination is nothing short of stunning, and speaks volumes about what is contained within this surreal tale. Excellent stuff yet again from one of the worlds greatest authors.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End Of the World, 25 April 2011
This review is from: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Paperback)
This book begins as a surreal sci-fi/ thriller; a first person narrative. A sardonic hero descends into an underground lair of a mad professor. Like James Bond crossed with William Gibson. Then in Chapter Two the whole book takes a sideways swerve and changes in tone and style. Here Murakami uses the past/present tense to evoke an allegorical, fantasy, folk-tale atmosphere, this works better than the "Hard Boiled" sections. It is the story of a man arriving at a strange town which is surrounded by a high impenetrable wall where there is only one way in and no-one ever leaves. The inhabitants have only titles: the Gatekeeper, the Librarian. This alternating chapter structure continues throughout the book and at first the contrast between the two styles seems jarring and hard to reconcile; almost an elaborate exercise in literary styles. I'm a great fan of Murakmai's work but have to say that I found this book quite hard to get into. In the end though perseverance paid off - just. Murakami is nothing if not a master storyteller, and gradually the two parallel narratives draw you in, begin to bleed into each other and create resonances. There are the familiar Murakami themes: the passive male protagonist (you can hardly call him a hero) trying to make sense of a world where things happen, often violent, unexplained, out of his control; the capable, smart teenage girl who falls in with him and his misadventures; the obsessive references to food (especially Italian) and popular music (especially Bob Dylan); the Library as both location and metaphor for the mind (to make the point this library keeps not books but unicorn skulls); the becalmed, dreamlike town whose inhabitants are trapped in a strange passive limbo. These tropes will be familiar with those who have read his other (better) books like `The Wind Up Bird Chronicle', `Kafka On the Beach' and Norwegian Wood' . It's not giving too much away to say that it soon becomes obvious that the two very different heroes in each sequence are the same person and the his quest is into consciousness itself - another now familiar Murakami theme. He gets quite bogged down in the theory of all this and even provides some (very cute) diagrams. What is the significance of the unicorn skulls? Why is the unnamed hero being pursued and threatened by goons from the System? Will he get the girl? Which One? Will he be reunited with his amputated shadow and escape the Town? As in all good thrillers these questions are answered after a fashion but you don't read Murakami books for that sense of closure. The book does reach a conclusion but it was quite a while after I'd finished reading it that I realised what it was. It's that kind of book. The telling of the tale matters more to him and there are truly moving passages towards the end, especially in the elegiac End of the World chapters. In hindsight the whole book can be read as a meditation on consciousness and the end of life itself but that is really to place too heavy a burden on what is a light, readable if typically oblique book.
Would I recommend this book? Certainly. It's not top-notch Murakami but then second best Murakmi is a good more involving than much fiction currently on offer. If you've not read any of his books, this probably isn't a good starting point. For that go to `Norwegian Wood' or the wonderful `Kafka On The Beach'.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling story!, 11 Dec 2006
By 
This review is from: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Paperback)
I have always been a huge fan of Murakami. I wrote a review stating that South of The Border, West of The Sun was my favourite novel but frankly, I can't decide between the two books!

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a sci-fi/adventure/romantic/thiller story. How can he possibly combine all of this in one story? Well, the main character has been trained as a human computer to be able to memorize and shuffle data in a way that makes it inaccessible and confidential. When he stumbles upon a mad-scientist figure at the beginning of the book ,the story is about to take an unexpected horrible twist as our hero finds out what his real purpose is.

At the same time, we follow another character who lives in a fantasy world and works as a 'dream-reader', who is following a similar destructive track as the other hero. Both men have to deal with the terrible secrets they have been forced to hide in their minds by forces outwith their control and they have to choose to destroy or be destroyed.

In a wonderfully realistic fairy-tale-turned-nightmare type of story, Murakami explores the human mind and its possibilities and the true potential of humans for free will which can be either detrimental or life-changing.

Read this book with an open mind and allow yourself to be carried away into Murakami's world of wobots and unicorns and to meditate on your own free will. This book is a must-read for all Murakami lovers and an excellent introduction to his style of writing if you have never read his novels before. Highly recommended!
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Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World
Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World by Haruki Murakami (Paperback - 28 Sep 2001)
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