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A human data processor who has been trained to use his subconscious as an encryption key. A newcomer enters an isolated place called Town surrounded by an impenetrable wall. An unpredictable tale in two parts, told through alternating chapters. Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a Murakami masterpiece told once again in the first person with no proper names mentioned.

The odd-numbered chapters called the "Hard-boiled Wonderland" detail the experiences of the narrator as he lives out the last several days of his life. He gets on with his job of encrypting the data and even agrees to do a procedure called ‘shuffling’, that has been stopped by his superiors for its dangers, although the Scientist assures him that it has been permitted by the System. The even-numbered chapters called "The End of the World" detail the experiences through the altered perception of the narrator. It deals with the narrator becoming a full member of the Town by having his shadow removed and becoming a dream reader, which also involves having his eyes pierced that made him allergic to strong light.

This book is an excellent example of the author’s writing style as it relies less on a conventional narrative and more on the dualistic nature of the two intertwined storylines. Haruki Murakami is such a talented writer who blends his wild imagination with life philosophy. The whole story is just ridiculously wild with no boundaries, and the pieces come together at the end.

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is definitely a novel that focuses on a quest into one’s mind. It is a classic Murakami that has a lot of allegories that tickle the reader’s imagination, plus the ability for your own interpretation of events is really a strong trademark work of the author which focuses on surrealism.

Reading a novel involving dual parallel storylines bring out a different kind of excitement and joy. But in my opinion, the execution in this novel is a little bit mediocre, particularly in the “Hard-boiled Wonderland” part. Some technical bits are unnecessary, but I think it adds some depth to the plot. What really amazes me is how Murakami discussed the imaginative uses of one’s mind in a 400-page novel. After all, our mind is really an amazing thing.

Rating: ☆☆

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