From the Muse’s Bookshelf: “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” by Haruki Murakami

Hello, all!

It’s been a little while since I last posted, and look where we are now: It’s almost summer! I finished off another of Haruki Murakami’s novels this week, and this is only the second Murakami novel I’ve read completely (the first? 1Q84, and you can find my reviews right this way.

What struck me about this was that the characters lack names. They’re only referred to by something that is used to identify them, whether it’s an object, the character’s age, or—in the End of the World—their profession. I was about three chapters in when I realized they alternated. One set of chapters deals with a data shuffler who lives in the Hard-Boiled Wonderland of daily life. The second set of chapters deals with a newcomer to a place called the Town, the only place of its sort in a bleak End of the World, where shadows are stripped from people upon entry. As the novel goes on, however, the way both worlds are connected is slowly revealed.

Given that I finished 1Q84 mere months ago, I really didn’t know what to expect when I started this one. Nameless protagonists aren’t something I’ve really encountered before in the stories I’ve read. It puts you in the protagonists’ mind, with a first-hand experience of things happening in both worlds. At the same time, you’re witnessing everything falling together. By novel’s end, I’d realized it wasn’t just a novel about two different worlds connected by one common link.

It was about human consciousness and what it means to exist.

From the Muse’s Bookshelf: “1Q84 (Book Three)” by Haruki Murakami + Final Thoughts

I finished off this three-part mega-novel last night at around 3 in the morning, and to be honest, I cannot fully describe how I felt upon finishing it. “Indescribable” seems like a good word to use, so I suppose I’ll use that word to sum up how I felt. Like usual, my thoughts on Book 3 will be spoiler-free, but my thoughts on the trilogy as a whole will contain spoilers, which will be behind a cut.

Now, to sum up the final book in the trilogy, things converged and intersected. Paths crossed. Aomame is literally on the run after completing her task, only to find out she is harboring something within her. Ushikawa is tailing her, so he can bring her back to Sakigake. And Tengo deals with more loss, only to gain something that he thought was truly gone after two decades.

These three individuals converge and meet, with plenty of near-misses. There were times when I was literally screaming at my copy of the book, wondering if the two main protagonists would meet at one point. And when they did meet, well, it didn’t go the way I expected. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I really had no idea where the story was taking me. As for the ending, it seemed open-ended. Some plot points didn’t have their ends tied up, but again, that’s not a bad thing.

Under the cut are my spoiler-filled thoughts on the novel itself, so if you’ve finished the book, click away. If not, you’ve been warned.

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From the Muse’s Bookshelf: “1Q84 (Book Two)” by Haruki Murakami

I finished part two of this three-part mega-novel recently, only to jump into part three soon thereafter. Again, I won’t spoil anything, but a quick summary of the events in book 2 will do.

 

Aomame has a major mission ahead of her, one that would put her life even more at risk, and Tengo falls deeper down a hole of twisted reality. People around him disappear into darkness, while Fuka-Eri leads him onward. The appearance of a major storm marks the beginning of the end, and the story behind the fabled Air Chrysalis is finally brought to light.

 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This book is a heavy read. Not in terms of page number, but in terms of content. With that said, I’m looking forward to the end of this one, and can’t wait to see how it ends. The only problem is I’m not quite sure which book to read next:

After Dark
Norwegian Wood
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Kafka on the Shore
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Of course, I need a small break from Murakami’s works, so I won’t read any of those books listed above until I finish Stephen King’s “On Writing.”

From the Muse’s Bookshelf: “1Q84 (Book One)” by Haruki Murakami

I picked up 1Q84 around a year or so ago, and I never really got around to it until early this year. I knew the book itself was meaty and thick. What I didn’t know was what awaited me upon starting Chapter 1. It’s indeed a story that goes from 0 to 180 mph real quick, what with being thrust into heroine Aomame’s…unique profession.

Aomame is a woman who lives according to her own set of rules, and plays by those rules. We don’t know much about her in the beginning, but I’m such a sucker for strong female characters and liked her immediately–and yes, this includes her quirks. Through her side of the story we meet the Dowager, an old woman that Aomame often reports to; the Dowager’s servant, Tamaru; and near the end of book one, the mysterious girl Tsubasa.

On the other hand, we are also introduced to the male protagonist Tengo: a man in his 30s who is a cram school teacher by day, and fledgling writer by night. He lives his life in perfect order, or so he thinks. His wheel of mediocrity is shattered when his friend Komatsu, an editor, drops a manuscript for “Air Chrysalis” in his lap to be edited. This is Tengo’s first introduction to the mysterious girl Fuka-Eri, a smart, yet odd, seventeen-year-old girl.

While there were many secrets revealed in book one of this three-part mega-novel, there is obviously more to be seen, what with the sneaky suspicion I have about the two main characters. There’s the matter of Fuka-Eri as well as Tsubasa, also.

Note that I tried to keep myself from spoiling anything major about this novel, so I sincerely hope that those who pick this up enjoy it as much as I have. And for the record: Yes, this is the first Murakami novel that I’m reading. Yes, I do plan on picking up the rest of his works.