I wrote this review a long time ago and never posted it. I have only read three Murakami books and had very different opinions of each. Hard-Boiled Wonderland is definitely my favourite so far.
First off, I think the English translator of HBW did a much better job than the one for Norwegian Wood. The English here holds its own special lyricism, and captures the surrealistic atmosphere of Murakami’s often bizarre, highly intriguing novel.
Two parallel narratives unfold. In one, a 35-year-old human data processor descends to an underground laboratory where he uses his subconscious as a locked encryption key to run information for a reclusive scientist. In the other, a newcomer to an isolated, walled town (known as ‘the End of the World’ – here there be UNICORN-LIKE BEASTIES!) begins to find his dream-like utopian surroundings increasingly disquieting.
A sense of conspiracy, futurism and fantasy lingers on each page, but HBW is not easily slotted into a single genre. It was this that really tickled my fancy – the uniqueness of Murakami’s tale, the sheer absurdity of select moments, the utter unpredictability.
So quirky was the tale that the ending evoked almost a sense of disappointment – I’d expand, but I don’t want to spoil it. Also, I can’t quite decide if I’m fond of the main character. The detached type, and dropping literary and musical references everywhere that I’m too uncultured to understand…