This novel is constructed around two parallel stories that are presented in alternating chapters. Odd-numbered chapters, which are read by Adam Sims and take place in “Hard-Boiled Wonderland,” tell the realistic story of a human data processor in Tokyo whose world has turned upside down. Even-numbered chapters, narrated by Ian Porter, tell the story of a newcomer to “The End of the World,” an odd town whose residents live behind a wall and surrender their shadows. Sims and Porter are well matched for the alternating chapters. Each is introspective as his character explores the meaning of the mind. While the two stories are distinct, the similarity in the pace and tone of both narrators keeps things smooth as the stories converge.
Narrators : Adam Sims & Ian Porter
I listened to this on Audiobook while i was on holiday. I’m glad they used two narrators and didn’t make one narrator struggle with multiple voices. One of the narrators, a youngish man in Tokyo, has an immature sort of voice which seems to suit his character fairly well. The narration was done well and the story (which i just need not comment on) was great. The negatives of course, for this narrator, was his female voice. It was rather dumb sounding. I felt like i was listening to a wishy washy high school character and it did make listening to that part particularly difficult (although the character is supposed to be a little wishy washy so i suppose that way the narrator did a great job) Narrator two, Ian Porter, did an amazing job. I felt exactly how the author would have wanted me to feel, detached an sombre. Accepting, yet a little confused. It was a brilliant narration and i do want to check out his other narrated works.
The narrators were great picks and I really enjoyed the book because of that. I would suggest picking up the audiobook for this.
Now, what i found interesting is that there were no names for these characters. They were called the chubby girl, the professor, the librarian, the general and the gatekeeper. I suppose that was to make sure we didn’t get attached to the characters or to make us feel like we were watching from a distance? whatever it was, it worked. It was so thoroughly enjoyable that i didn’t notice, till the end where he rents the car that there were no names. It struck me how much unnecessary weight we put on character names. Although i suppose it will be felt in other books, Murakami just has a way of making any bloody thing work.
The book wasn’t a difficult read, it’s just hard to have the patience not to flip through to the last page to see what happens. (Unfortunately i was on audiobook and didn’t want to lose my position by doing something that rash) we follow these two heroes, one cool headed and the other completely detached through their entry to their respective strange worlds, one in Tokyo and the other a Dystopian universe and follow their trials and see if they reach the ending we want them to reach. I cannot say more without giving away spoilers.
This is just my fourth Murakami. 1Q84 is one of my favourite books of all time and that was the first i read. I followed that with Kafka on the shore and Sputnik sweetheart. I didn’t like Sputnik sweetheart much at all, i felt like he didn’t know anything about women. but here, i loved it. It brought back my love for Murakami and I have Norwegian wood on my radar next. Maybe I’ll pick that up.
For the average reader, this has everything you could possible want, dark forces, shadowy figured, bone breaking, sex, lots of food and lots of metaphors. For the refined reader, i don’t need to review Murakami, he;s just fabulous.