What do I know about unicorns? This is meant to be a review of Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End of the World. In Japanese, Sekai no owari to hādo-boirudo wandārando.
Achtung ⚠️ Es gibt viele spoilern für den Novel.
What stood out to me in the novel?
No names. All characters were referred to either by description or job title. The chubby girl, the librarian, Calcutec. There are more but I am not planning on telling the whole story here. Du magst, du liest. Don’t know why I am including a bit of German hier und da.
I guess because of a recent funny video or maybe because I watched Monster again. Every time I watch it, it’s like watching it all over again, mainly because my memory with animes is poor to the point that I enjoy what I watch but don’t retain most of it. Maybe because I binge through most of the series.
Anyhow, in this novel, the protagonist is a calcutec. Calcutecs work for The System. The novel contains two stories, each narrated in an alternative chapter. The two stories merge near the end like two rivers meeting at the meeting point. The calcutec is being pursued by Samiatecs whose job is to steal the information from the calcutecs. Cyber warfare.
It’s a strange, bizarre and out of this world novel. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it Kafkaesque. Many of Haruki Murakami’s work take inspiration from Franz Kafka.
What can I write that you wouldn’t find on Wikipedia or Google about this piece of art. While a lot of the story is still fresh in my head as I recently listened to it. I took my time listening to it. I want to review it so that it makes you want to pick up this book.
If you’re one for creativity, imagination. If you’re into surrealism, science fiction then this would definitely be a good read for you. What’s more, the novel explores the concept of death. The end of the world is a theme for the science fiction story that is taking place in the protagonists world. What he doesn’t know is that this world has been embedded into his subconscious with the help of the old scientist who worked for the system. Shuffling, sound editing and examining the subconscious is the theme here.
What caught my attention is the relationship of dream world and real life. How the subconscious influences it. While not apparently made clear. I came to my conclusion listening to the book that the characters between the two stories are somewhat related. The relationship isn’t hard to figure out, especially the librarian in the two worlds and the protagonist in both worlds.
The intricate relationship of how the protagonist finds a way to not lose his mind, memories and identity is hinted at, him getting into a relationship with the librarian who is as empty as him inside, after some traumatic life experiences and previous personal relationships.
Then what is further hinted at, are the attributes and qualities that the protagonist possesses that make him the only survivor of the System’s experiment. Here what I understood was the resilience and it’s connection with the subconscious which is near a breaking point that either helps him retain his mind and memories or come to an end like the rest of the subjects who went through the experiment.
Well as you see from my review of the novel that a lot of the story is left open for debate. Each reader can make their own conclusions. Perhaps, this is also a point of critique. When you read or listen to the story you will find many other nuances within the two stories that are open for interpretation. Nevertheless, the story is still complete. The ideas and nuances left open for interpretation and debate act as a hook to get the readers involved.
Another point of critique perhaps is that the start of the story is bizarre, also a little slow paced. However, if you continue reading you will be absorbed by the story after a couple of chapters.
Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World easily goes in my top list of Haruki Murakami’s novels. My other favourite novels by Murakami are The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, 1Q84 and Kafka On The Shore.
Image credit: Behance