Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami

hbwateotwThis might be an unpopular opinion but this book didn’t grip me from the offset. In fact, I really debated putting this down within the first 100 pages because it was just so… bland. And also, it really riled me up. I won’t lie.

Genuinely, my inner feminist was screaming reading this book. Within the first chapter we have an entire paragraph dedicated to justifying why a ‘chubby’ woman is still attractive. Seriously. The only identifying feature he gave this woman was ‘chubby’. Whenever this girl is mentioned, her weight is mentioned, her size is mentioned and that made me angry. Oh and also, there was half a chapter about how she makes really good sandwiches! It made me even angrier when in chapter 7 another female character is introduced and her defining feature is ‘slim’. Yep. Maybe I was a little intolerant of it but this pissed me off to no end to the point I wanted to throw the book across the room in spite of the fact that I was just starting to enjoy it. I know it was written in 1985 and ‘times were different’ but seriously, I’m not down with this objectification of women and outright misogyny!

But the thing is, Haruki Murakami just has a gift when it comes to creating an atmosphere, it’s something I really appreciate in an author and this ‘atmosphere’ thing features heavily in a lot of books that I enjoy. When reading some of this I felt like it could do with being a black and white adaptation with a heavy voiceover, it was foggy and mysterious and yes… I do really love that in a book. All the issues I have aside, I can’t help but compulsively read a Murakami book.

Forgetting the fact that women can evidently only be identified by their body mass, this was okay. After I got in to it around the 100 page mark I really enjoyed the story. Some of it was surplus to requirements, shall we say but the main crux of it was really engaging. It’s essentially two stories that eventually weave together, but as with all Murakami it is really best to go in blind and just let the story take you! To be fair to this book, it is an amazing story, it was a masterful novel but I just can’t get over how it made me feel on the angst front. Murakami may be a master with atmosphere but he is awful at writing women and for that reason I didn’t enjoy this to it’s 3/5 from me