Harmony-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Japanese Dystopian Fiction

Rating: 4/5

I have had this book on my shelf for years (I believe I picked it up for a dollar at a used book store). It caught my eye, rightly so, but with so many books to read, this one was not high on my list. That is, it wasn’t until I came across the anime movie of the same name based on the novel by Keikaku (Project) Itoh.

This Japanese dystopian fiction takes place many years in the future, after an event called the “Maelstrom,” an event described with nuclear destruction and warfare that has change the way the world works. Now, people do not see or know violence, and their very lives are governed by the “WatchMe” installed when they become adults, alerting them to health needs and basically becoming an internal camera that can scan people or tap into the web or news at will.

Ruled by the Admedistration, three high school girls–Tuan, Miach, and Cian–aim to kill themselves together to demonstrate that their bodies and will are their own. When one supposedly succeeds and the other two fail, life returns to normal.

The events from high school are written as recollections in the novel while Tuan, now a member of the World Health Organization, begins a new investigation, one she recognized must have some connection to her friend who committed suicide. When over 6,000 people attempt suicide worldwide at the same exact time, including Tuan’s friend, Cian, her friends last words begin the lead to find out who is behind the control of the WatchMe: “I’m sorry, Miach.”

With some organization having the ability to tap into each person’s personal tech to control their will, Tuan must find a way to stop it. When the second wave hits, instructions that people must either kill another person or kill themselves before the deadline, or they will all attempt suicide, is a means of having toe world break free from the utopia and to demonstrate that a person’s free will belongs to the individual, not the government.

Tuan’s search to find out if Miach is alive and behind this leads her to her father’s research, and from there, the truth behind the reason for creating chaos to make the word a place of harmony once more.

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This book was interesting and is worth the read for any fan of dystopian. It was a nice comparison and contrast between American dystopian novels and Japanese dystopian novels. The similarities and differences are interesting to analyze. The anime adaptation was also interesting. It was very well animated with vivid visuals, and it followed the book phenomenally. A must read for fans of Japanese or dystopian fiction.

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