Andrea's Reviews > Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
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Jan 03, 08

Read in December, 2007

I had to think about whether or not I loved this book, which, I ultimately decided, must mean I didn't.

It's always hard with translations because you never know if the book's wonderfulness or awfulness is the fault of the author or the translator. This is an interesting case, as it is really two books in one and I do not feel the same about them.

"Hardboiled Wonderland" is narrated in an overly detailed, unemotional, almost computer-like way. I believe the author's intent here was to show the narrator—his job being what it is—as a very no-nonsense, analytical type—almost part machine in a way. I understand this reasoning, but good reasons don't always make for good writing. I found myself skimming these chapters because I just couldn't take so much of, "I awoke at 7am, went to the refrigerator, opened the door and took out a beer. I walked to the table and drank the beer. When I was done, I removed another beer from the fridge and drank that as I dressed to go to the liquor store for more beer. On the way to the store, the cute chubby girl in the pink skirt and gold earrings came rushing up to me. There was something wrong with her grandfather, the scientist."

There were other parts of "Hardboiled Wonderland" that made it hard for me to really get into it, like the way the grandfather/scientist spoke. Rarely do I like speech written in dialect and this was not an exception. I could also have done without the INKlings, which totally threw off the believability of this book for me. I think it could have been more terrifying and more believable had the shadowy villains been zombies. That said, without "Hardboiled Wonderland" the lovely and dreamlike tone of "End of the World" would perhaps not been as lovely. So, it serves a purpose after all.

"End of the World" delighted me, even though it had mythical creatures just as "Hardboiled Wonderland" did and was overall much more unrealistic. I liked it, though, because the things which the narrator seemed to be unable to explain and the mysterious ways of the town were so dead-on the way dreams really are, that I was actually really impressed with the author's ability to recreate that feeling of everything being that way because it just IS.

I liked the ending because it was exactly what I didn't want the narrator to do, which would have been dumb and boring. On the whole, I have to say that this was not one of my favorite books, but I appreciate it anyway. I do intend to read more Murakami, though this work of his has made me put up my guard.
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