Tag Archives: © 2012 Book Chatter

Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679743460, 1993, 416pp.)

The Short of It:

Mesmerizing and magical.

The Rest of It:

Talk about cutting it close! I had planned to finish my last book of the year a few days ago, but as usual, my vision of what I felt could be done, didn’t quite mesh with the reality laid out before me. Funny, because that’s sort of what this book is about. Reality versus what we think reality to be.

Those of you familiar with this blog know that I have a thing for Murakami’s writing. His writing is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Much of what he writes is surreal and strange but a lot of what he writes is just so normal. Normal in that he has a way of making simple things sound marvelous. The simple act of brewing coffee becomes something special in Murakami’s hands. I love that about his writing.

This novel is no exception and might be my favorite of his yet. A data processor finds himself in a strange situation. Hired by an eccentric professor who happens to be secreted away under the subway system in Japan, he realizes quickly that the job he’s been hired to do is anything but standard. The work that he’s been given is important enough for the government, known as The System, to become involved and although the professor’s intentions were good initially, his little experiment has gone very wrong.

In a parallel story, a man finds himself trapped behind a great wall surrounded by beasts which can only be unicorns. As he tries to make sense of this world and the importance of the unicorns themselves, he begins to question his existence and purpose.

Sounds bizarre, right?

As bizarre as these stories are, Murakami manages to pull both stories together, creating what I feel is his most profound work yet. As an end-of-the-year read, I don’t think I coud have picked a better book. Its largeness is felt on every page yet it’s totally readable and not hoity-toity in the way that books like this can sometimes be.

It’s fantasy and literary fiction all wrapped up together and I absolutely loved it. It left me with big thoughts and yet somehow, I feel rejuvenated too.

Even after all my gushing, if you’re still not sure about Murakami, this April I am hosting a read-along for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I promise it will be fun and easy with very little to do but enjoy the book. After the New Year, I’ll post more about it so look for that post if you are interested. I’ve not read the book yet myself so we’ll be experiencing it together. For now, write down this hashtag #winditup2013!

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Twelve

The Twelve

The Twelve
By Justin Cronin
(Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345504982, October 2012, 592pp.)

The Short of It:

Open the book, read the first few pages and fall into a world quite unlike your own.

The Rest of It:

I’ve been talking about this book for months and could not wait for it to finally hit the shelves. The anticipation of it coming and the feeling I had when it finally appeared on my e-reader made me feel like a kid in a candy store. The only negative was that I was in the middle of a huge project at work so I could not take the day off like I wanted to. In fact, because I am so particular about how I read highly anticipated books, I ended up putting it off until I had some time to really sit down with it.

I finally read it and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The Twelve is book #2 of The Passage trilogy. What impressed me about The Passage, is that it was a combination of many different genres. Part thriller, part fantasy with vampire-like creatures and an experiment gone wrong. It was the end of the world, and the beginning of another. Well, in The Twelve, the story focuses on what the world has become.

There are some new characters, but lots of familiar ones as well. As good attempts to overcome evil, there is a lot of getting from point A to point B but what I especially enjoyed, what I really savored was the decimated world that Cronin created. I love stories that center around the Apocalypse and as dark as most of these books are, The Twelve was not that. Cronin focuses on the survivors and they are a resilient bunch. Quirky, strong and level-headed. There are no idiots here.

As you can imagine from the title of this trilogy, Cronin takes us on a journey and as we go along for the ride, we get to spend time with these characters, we get to know them and we get to know their weaknesses. This installment was more personal, or it seemed to be as I was reading it.

Now for those of you who are wondering about these “Virals” and their vamp-like tendencies, let me just say that this is not a book about vampires. These creatures are altered but they are thinking beings and their calculated means of attack makes for some entertaining reading. The battle scenes put you right in the action, but they aren’t overly graphic. A lot is left to your imagination which is how I like it.

The Twelve is a solid follow-up to book one. The pacing was just right so the length of the book was not an issue. I can’t wait to see what Cronin dreams up for book three.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.