Every now and then, I stumble across a book that really makes an impact on me.
I might devour books, but for the most part, they don’t tend to have a long-lasting aftertaste. Harmony, by Project Itoh, is an exception.
Last year I saw a film called The Empire of Corpses at Scotland Love Animation and when I found out it was adapted from a book by Project Itoh, I wanted to read the original book.
However, it is only available in Japan in Japanese. I then found out that his first book, Harmony, was available in English and my local library had a copy. I decided to give it a go.
Wow. Just, wow.
The story of Harmony follows Tuan Kirie, who as a teen attempted to kill herself with her two best friends. As in this futuristic world, every adult has a device called WatchMe installed inside them that turns their body into data. This sets off a warning if even the smallest thing happens. In this world, every disease known to man has been wiped out. From cancer to the common cold, all are but a distant memory.
But the price of freedom from illness is freedom itself. Everyone is conditioned to ask in a certain way, their lives are organised by life designers and people are just seen as tools to serve this society. So these three try to kill themselves to prove that their bodies are theirs alone.
Needless to say, Tuan lived. Only one of the girls died. She then grew up to become a Helix agent, kind of like a soldier for the World Health Organization. Suddenly, thousands of people kill themselves at the same time. Tuan is tasked to find out how and why this happened, only to discover something much darker going on.
Harmony is, to put it very bluntly, an even more intense and morbid version on 1984. The Sci-Fi world the story is set in is rather interesting and the way the society operates is fascinating to me. The story is told from the point of view of Tuan. We learn more about this world from her and, for me at least, the way the story is written you feel like you are on this adventure by her side.
There are constant flashbacks to Tuan’s childhood. Mostly memories of her with her best friend Miach Mihie, who was the one who came up with the suicide pact and was the only one of the three to die.
I think Harmony might just be the most disturbing book I have ever read. Not just because of the violence and gore, though there is quite a bit which is written in gruesome detail, but the psychological aspects of the story. I am not going to lie, this book really freaked me out but I just couldn’t put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next. I needed to find out why it happened and how Tuan fitted into this mess.
I highly recommend this book. If you are looking for something dark and thought-provoking, then Harmony is just what you need.
Harmony has been adapted into an anime movie, but I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t really say if it is as good as the book or not. However, here are two trailers so you can decide if you want to check out the movie or not.