Hard-Boiled was a very imaginative novel. While the beginning left me wondering if it was worth my time, it quickly drew me into its world of surreal beauty. Murakami’s penchant for otherworldliness is prominent in this work, and like Wind-Up Bird it suffuses the book with a sense of lightness and mystery. Which is refreshing because in other works of Murakami, *cough1Q84cough* it doesn’t work quite as well. Trying to figure out the connection between the Wonderland and the Town kept me engaged and guessing the whole time. Between the two I like the Town a bit better since, being a somewhat fantasy inspired dreamworld, it forced Murakami to extend his characters beyond consumers of pop-culture and his locations beyond cities. The image of the Town’s skulls glowing is an extremely vivid and interesting one that will stick with me for a long time.
On the negative side, the main character is again a casually misogynistic man who, at completely random points, pipes up with a sexist bit of internal monologue (also fat-shaming? Dude, come on). It may be forgivable as an isolated incident, but as a theme across most of Murakami’s novels it is less so. His writing of female characters has never been fantastic either. Another vexing Murakamiism rears its head- the dreaded super vague ending. However, it’s not quite as bad as others *coughTsukurucough*. It actually defied my predictions and it gets points for that.
Overall, the book was very enjoyable and among the best of Murakami’s books.