Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of The World Review.

If you are going to read this novel at some point do not read this as it contains major spoilers.

As long as this book title is "Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of The World" by Haruki Murakami is a 1985 novel exploring the idea of the subconscious mind.

This novel takes us through two stories:

Hard Boiled Wonderland - odd chapters 
End of The World - even chapters

Like a few of Murakami's novels both these stories are connected somehow but it's only until near the end that we realize what the connection is.

Hard Boiled Wonderland follows the narrator (as no characters in this novel has their name mentioned but are named after their profession or looks), the narrator is a Calcutec.

Calcutecs are human data processors who are trained to use their subconscious mind as encryption keys. Calcutecs work for the System -the government- unlike their criminals counterparts with the same abilities known as "Semiotecs" who work for the Factory which is generally a group of fallen Calcutecs. The relationship between the two groups is simple: the System protects data while the Semiotecs steal it and sell it.

Hard Boiled Wonderland starts off with the narrator completing a task for the scientist/old man who is working on an evolutionary project of sound removal, with this project he can increase, decrease or completely silence specific sounds, for thanks he gives the narrator a strange looking skull which he is told to keep safe as the Semiotecs are after it,  during the course of this half of the novel we come to realize that the skull is that of a Unicorn.

Later on the narrator receives a phone call from the professors granddaughter who warns him the world will end and that he must meet the professor again in order to explain the situation better. 

When he meets with the old man he is told that out of all the people who became Calcutecs by infusing their brain with a processor of some sort, the narrator is the only one to have survived after a few years, and that it is his world (the narrators) that is ending within a few days, he is told that he will fall asleep and be in a dream like world that his sub-conscience mind has created and he will be in this world for all eternity, if someone was to kill him in the real world it wouldn't matter as he'd still be there forever as the chip infused with his brain has so much data on it that it will not slow time down in his dream but completely stop time making nano seconds in reality all eternity in his head.

Towards the end of the book the narrator spends his last few hours contemplating on whether he has affected anyone, or if anyone would miss him or even know he was gone. The ending of this story is the narrator sitting in his car in a deserted car park and simply falling asleep, choosing that option and not suicide.

End of The World, follows a narrator again, in this story we follow the narrator as he tries to come to terms with what is happening and escape from the town enclosed within an indestructible wall.

This story starts out with our character just about to enter the town, where he meets another character referred to as the Gatekeeper, the Gatekeeper separates him from his shadow as know town people have one, he is told that his shadow will die soon after due to the upcoming winter as they do not have alot of strength on their own (nor are they permitted to be fused with their other half) he finds out that peoples shadows are what holds their minds and when their shadow dies their minds are gone and he will be fully accepted into the town.

Since his shadow holds his memories the narrator has no idea what drove him to come to the town so he plans to escape with his shadow, in the meantime the narrator makes a map of the town to give to his other half, the narrator is given quarters and a job by the Gatekeeper as every resident has a job they must fulfill, the job the narrator has is known as "Dreamreader", dreamreading is a job that involves the narrator removing any traces of mind from the town which are sealed inside the skulls of Unicorns who live in the town and when they die due to the harsh winter colds their skulls absorb fragments of the townsfolk minds which are then read by the Dreamreader after the Gatekeeper burns the corpses and gives the skulls to the librarian who's job is to provide assistance to the Dreamreader.

Towards the end of the novel the narrator falls in love with the librarian but since she has no mind and therefore cannot love him back he is driven to seek out the skull which has her mind in it, true to his word he frees his shadow from his prison and attempts to escape with his shadow out of the perfect town and they realize that the town does have an exit as it would not be perfect if it was missing an entrance. This exit turns out to be the pool which connects to the river which goes outside the wall from underneath, this pool was feared by all as it was said to kill anybody who went in it, this lie was made in order to prevent the townsfolk from leaving, the narrator decides it's best to stay in the town while his shadow decides to leave through the pool, before the shadow leaves he tell his other half the truth as he has his memories and the truth is that they are in a town created by their own mind in which the shadow wishes to escape from.

This means the ending of the Hard Boiled Wonderland story where the main character falls asleep for every,  is the start of the End of the World story where he is outside the town and about to enter but as these stories are told simultaneously it is hidden from us for the majority of the novel as we are lead to believe that the town was a real place and that the scientist from Hard Boiled Wonderland somehow escaped from the town and obtained a Unicorn skull.

Overall this novel is a masterpiece for its amazing convey of atmosphere and the way it makes the ending to both stories sad yet beautiful at the same time, this is a novel that any fan should definitely read.


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