Hard- Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a 1985 surrealistic science fiction novel by Haruki Murakami which is set in two fictional universes – Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the The End of the World.
In both universes, there are two unnamed protagonists who narrate the story and their experiences with different people in very strange ways and circumstances until the two stories are intertwined together.
The amusing aspect of the novel is that none of the characters are named especially but are referred to certainly by their professions, characteristics and cheeky nicknames.
The chapters alternate between the two settings giving them ample amount of time and space.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland is very similar to the contemporary definition and atmosphere of a city but it has fictional aspects related to technology and science. It is very technologically different resembling all the different aspects of the sci-fi genre.
The End of the World unlike Hard-Boiled Wonderland is very similar to a beautiful countryside- peaceful, simple,monotonous and calm but strange,incredulously stranger as it is not what meets the eye. Nothing changes here and nothing happens differently-contentment and serenity is the principle. It has a philosophical fable like quality in terms of the atmosphere.
It is no surprise that Murakami builds up a very unbelievably strange universe with all sorts of mystic elements and crazy twists and turns yet he intrigues you with his lucid,simple and fast paced first person narrative, dragging you into this weird tale of emotions.
The novel is not without its flaws- the dialogue is a bit overdone sometimes, the plot itself and the development itself feels a bit cliched as it falls back on itself due to its conventional plot devices sometimes which was not the case with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
Even though, still the novel is filled with deep themes.Towards the end, the novel is surprising,bewildering and melancholic which definitely makes for a must read.
Another great aspect of this novel is its subtle inspirations- Bob Dylan, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Stendhal and further more are the people referred to in the novel which is intriguing in terms of execution.
Other difficult theme in the novel is the acceptance of escapism v/s reality, which is dealt with beautifully in a very confusing manner.
Overall, a strong fast paced work by Murakami which blows you away with its spiritual, mystic and bewildering climax.