This book was recommended to me in the highest terms by a friend as she was reading it. "Sex and drugs in Tokyo, London, and Berlin" she said. Shortly afterwards I stumbled over it in the library and picked it up immediately. I will admit that based on the title and my friend's description I expected a different experience; one more in touch with the Wonderland reference made on the cover. What I found was something altogether different, but not in a disappointing way.
The protagonist of this book will either suck you in or put you off right off the bat. The protagonist is very conflicted and hypocritical, with a downright mesmerizing voice. While cynical, his capacity for insight is staggering and each chapter contains very striking observations that will really make you think. I was able to connect with him very easily, and I think that whether or not you can connect with him will be the deciding factor in whether or not you will enjoy this book.
The writing style of this book is impeccable. The author experiments with all kinds of ambrosial words and the book is full of beautiful descriptive sentences and excellently quotable dialogue. I really can't stress enough how much I enjoyed the way the author wrote, and I will definitely seek out his other works for this purpose.
One of the selling points of this book is in the fact that it takes place in 3 major cities, London, Tokyo, and Berlin, though the vast majority of the book takes place in Berlin. While Berlin is an excellent location for this story and the author does a great job in making you feel like you are there, I would have liked to see more of the other cities; the time spent in London is minuscule and all of the action in Tokyo takes place in a single locale.
As for the plot, while it drags a little in the 3rd quarter, the overall structure of the book is different and outstanding. This is a book more about concept than about plot. It explores the consumer culture, the nature of excess, and has a strong anti-capitalist air. There is a profound layer of debauchery used in equal parts to seduce and repulse the reader. It makes no effort to be politically correct and has no qualms with removing you from your comfort zone in order to get across its message, and doesn't always explain its reasons to you for doing so.
While the book has a dismal tone most of the way through (after all the book begins with the assertion that the protagonist is planning to kill himself), it ends with a bright note of optimism that shines through the grit of the rest of the narrative; I thought it was an excellent ending to an imperfect but great book.
I am very excited to see what this author does next and would definitely recommend him to other readers, though his style is not for everyone, particularly the faint of heart.