Title: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World
Author: Haruki Murakami
Published: Published March 2nd 1993 by Vintage.(First published in 1985.)
The entire time I was reading this I was thinking to myself, "how in the world am I going to review this?!" This novel was so good and I had no idea how to explain it out loud--and trust me, I tried talking about it with my boyfriend and I just sounded like an idiot.
This novel has two interwoven tales in two different places. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and End of The World. Characters are not named but described by what they do. The themes are the conscious and the unconscious. Ultimately, you are confused as to which is reality. Extremely poetic, sad, and surreal this novel is. I fell in love with Murakami's writing style and have made it a goal to read everything he's ever written.
This is one of those novels that I don't want to spoil so I'll just post what Wikipedia has on character descriptions. My advice to you is to read this.
A Calcutec in his mid-thirties (35) who, aside from his unusual profession, lives the life of a typical Tokyo yuppie. Although very observant, he gives little thought to the strangeness of the world around him.
The Old Man/the scientist
A great, yet absent-minded, scientist who hires the narrator to process information. He is researching "sound removal". He has developed a way of reading the subconscious and actually recording it as comprehensible, if unrelated images. He had the inspiration of then editing these images to embed a fictional story into the subconscious of his subjects, one of whom is of course the narrator. He did this by working with the System due to the attractiveness of its facilities, though he disliked working for anyone. He later goes to Finland, as said by his granddaughter, to escape.
The Chubby Girl
The Granddaughter of the Old man. She is half the narrator's age, and described as overweight, yet attractive. She helps the Narrator in his journey through the sewers and decides to move in his apartment after the 2 worlds of his will converge.
The always-hungry girl who helps the narrator research unicorns and becomes his 48-hour girlfriend.
Junior and Big Boy
Two thugs who, on unknown orders, confront the narrator, leaving his apartment destroyed and inflicting a deliberately non-lethal but serious slash across his lower abdomen.
Sewer-dwelling people described as "Kappa" who have developed their own culture.They are so dangerous that the scientist lives in their realm, protected by a repelling device, to keep away from those who want to steal his data. It is said that they worship a Talapia fish with violent tendencies (and leeches). They also do not eat fresh flesh; rather, once they catch a human, they submerge him in water and wait for him to rot in a few days before eating him.
End of the World
A newcomer to "the End of the World". As an initiation into the Town, his Shadow is cut off and his eyes pierced to make him averse to daylight and give him the ability to "read dreams", his allotted task. He cannot remember his former life nor understand what has happened to him, but he knows that the answers are held in his mind, which his Shadow preserves.
The Narrator's Shadow
Apparently human in form. He retains the narrator's memory of their former life together, but he is doomed to die, separated as he is, and is harshly (but not cruelly) treated by his custodian, the Gatekeeper. Upon his death, the narrator would then cease to have a 'mind'. The Shadow longs to escape from the Town and be reunited with the world where he and the narrator rightfully belong.
The guardian and maintenance foreman of "the End of the World". He instructs the narrator in his duties, and keeps the narrator’s Shadow effectively a prisoner, putting him to work – disposing of dead beasts who die during winter.
The Town’s Librarian who keeps the beasts' skulls in which the "dreams" reside. She assists the narrator in his work. She has no “mind", but her mother did, and the narrator becomes increasingly convinced that her mind is in fact only hidden, not irretrievably lost. The connection between this Librarian and the other, in Hard-Boiled Wonderland, is never made explicit, although the narrator repeatedly mentions that she looks familiar.
An old man, the narrator's neighbor, who provides advice and support, and nurses him when he falls sick.
A young man who tends the Power Station in the Town's dangerous Woods. He is an outsider who provides a miniature accordion, a possible key in the narrator's efforts to recover his mind and memories. The Caretaker is banished to the Woods because he still has a semblance of a mind, and cannot be allowed to live within the Town.