"North is an original and even dazzling writer." (Kirkus)
"Terrifying, plausible, and intelligent. An outstanding novella." (Fantasy Book Critic)
"Brilliant." (The Digital Fix)
From the award-winning, best-selling Claire North comes a brand new stand-alone novella - a clever and unnervingly plausible dystopian tale set five minutes into the future....
Harmony is tired. Tired of working so hard, tired of the way she looks, tired of being average. But all that changes when she decides to splash out and upgrade her nanos.
And why not? Everyone's doing it now. With a simple in-app purchase, you can update the tech in your bloodstream to transform yourself - get enhanced brain power, the perfect body or a dazzling smile.
Suddenly, everything starts going right for Harmony. She's finally becoming the person she always wanted to be. But when she ends up running too many upgrades on her body all at once, the effects will be more catastrophic than she could have imagined.
With Sweet Harmony, Claire North proves yet again that she is one of the most innovative and original voices in modern fiction.
- D. Clough
I've come to expect great things from Claire North and this novella fell a little short of them. As a satire on consumerism, It works reasonably well but the writer doesn't really develop her central idea or take it in an interesting direction. The reading was also distracting to listen to. Lucy Rayner brings the characters to life when they're speaking but chooses to deliver the narration in a weird sing-song 'seductive' intonation for some unfathomable reason.
Brilliant but dark (not a contradiction)
I recall the 80s film The Fly (not an obvious comparison perhaps) and how it had struck me that it was itself a hybrid, like its featured creature – an amalgamation of horror and melodrama. Both functioned in sympathy and either half could be lifted away leaving an intact story.
This occurred to me again with Sweet Harmony which is a Dark Mirror style sci fi tech-horror and also a tragic drama – both laced with the kind of satire and savage indictment of modern society's more insidious flaws and maladies in a way that Dark Mirror rarely manages to achieve.
Angry (justly) but intelligent, and humane in a way that brings home the tragedy and really makes the satire sting.
Only quibble, I didn't like the narration much and found her habit of sighing out expressions annoying. I recognise this is perhaps a personal taste thing so have still rated the overall 5. I just didn't think she was any good. And her accents are a bit crap.
Effective and repulsive
I'm a huge fan of Claire North's books and was excited to receive an email from Audible to notify me of her new novella. I'm glad I approached this book with slightly different expectations as, if you're expecting a "Harry August", "Touch", "Hope" or "William Abbey" you'll probably be disappointed.
I found this book was very effective. It starts as it means to go on - with a detailed description of a puss filled spot. It contains much which is revolting - not only in the lingering descriptions of the main character's horror at their own body but the psychological abuse she suffers from her partner and the disgusting decadence and superficiality of the high-society she strives to be a part of.
It's a book that made me feel anxious - as the main character spirals ever deeper into debt and depression. The book is a work of art but not one that you could say you "enjoyed" looking at.