Published by Haikasoru, VIZ Media on 2010 (first published 2008)
Genres: Dystopian, Japanese literature, Science fiction
The world is in a state of 'perfect healthcare' and 'harmony'. Life is precious, and WatchMe is constantly monitoring your physical and mental wellbeing. Moreover, it is socially unacceptable to be unfriendly and uncaring toward other human beings - crime is practically unheard of. Utopia has been achieved, or has it? There's only one way to game the system.
We all know there’s no such thing as Utopia. Utopia is always Dystopia. And oh boy do I love a good dystopian novel.
Harmony is told from the perspective of Tuan Kirie. As a teenager she is troubled, attempting to escape the pressure this ‘perfect’ society puts on her. And while her friend Miach finds a way out, Tuan grows up to become a member of the World Health Organization.
This book is typically the kind of novel that one should just shut up about and read. I don’t want to go into the plot too much because it’s so easy to spoil and take away the fun of reading
and also the plot is too complicated to write down properly. But I encourage fans of hard sci-fi, as well as readers who enjoy dystopia and its social implications, to give this book a try. It raises a lot of interesting questions about humanity, and while I’m sure sci-fi fans are familiar with these questions, the novel doesn’t feel like a cliché.
The first thing you notice when you open this book is the coding. Initially it doesn’t seem to have much of a function, and I was afraid I’d get tired of it. But it’s clever and I’ll leave it at that. In case you’re worried, it’s not overpowering the ‘normal’ text (unlike what the photo of the first page would suggest).
In 2009 this book won both the Seiun award for speculative fiction and the Japan SF award. The book was put in a different perspective when I got to the end and read that the author, ‘Project Itoh’, aka Keikaku Itō (born as Satoshi Itō), revised this book while in the hospital receiving cancer treatment. Sadly Itō passed away in 2009, Harmony was his second and final novel.
I originally read Harmony for January in Japan and decided to pen down a review after all. Better late than never!