***Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***
“Rule number one in combat training: You can’t win a fight if you don’t believe you can.”
– Amanda Kelly & Mairym Castro, Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel
Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel Review
**BE WARNED – CONTAINS SPOILERS**
Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel by Amanda Kelly & Mairym Castro is a young adult novel that explores the resilience of the human spirit when confronted with an unfamiliar world of death and deceit. Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel introduces Harmony “H” Booker, a self-assured young woman assimilating back into society following the termination of her enforced military program. Unfortunately, H’s journey to normalcy is interrupted when an unidentified virus starts wreaking havoc on society. Those unlucky enough to become infected transform into zombie-like creatures; no mental function, rotting flesh stench, and pupil-less eyes. These monsters, nicknamed “stinkers”, also have heightened strength and agility. This particular revelation proves difficult for H as she is knocked unconscious in her initial attempt at challenging these new enemies. When she awakes days later, to H’s horror, her entire immediate community is either dead or infected. Not only that, while unconscious, H’s eyes seem to have changed from their original chocolate-y brown color to a rather striking shade of purple. As the only survivor with adequate training, H assumes the role of humanity’s last defense. Her mission? Save her family and any other survivors before the government resorts to drastic measures to eliminate this volatile threat.
In Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel, our illustrious protagonist, H, is first introduced pursuing one of her passions, pizza. While attempting to alleviate her latest craving, the audience gains a quick insight into her personality, prior to the zombie apocalypse’s influence. For instance, upon arriving at her favorite pizza destination (and place of employment), H is bombarded with questions regarding her real name. Since she has only ever introduced herself as H, no one outside of her immediate family knows the truth. This evasion exposes her fear of expressing herself as well as her inability to connect with others. Despite her confident exterior, the avoidance of this simple information suggests an internal struggle, possibly resentment in regards to her identity. Regardless of the true meaning, once H’s unusual background is revealed, her personality and overall outlook on life begins to make sense.
In order to elaborate on H’s upbringing, it is important to note that her father is a high ranking military general. As a result of this relation, H was thrust into a compulsory yet secretive military program at a young age. Without any personal input in this big life decision, H was forced to adapt into the role of solider, learning to accept the insensitive remarks, demeaning superiors, and demanding exercise regimes. Using her backstory as perspective into her current actions, H’s proposed identity crisis seems plausible. H was forced to evolve in order to survive her time in the military, only to have it be thrown aside when discharged. This wavering personality progression has to take a toll on her true identity, which is why she advocates for her name to remain as H. Her short nickname not only allows her to hide her true self, but it also buys her time to discover who she really is without the constant pain of the military.
With the dawn of the zombie apocalypse, H is required to reference her military training. Her once abandoned education of tactical knowledge, combat expertise, and emotionless outlook is finally utilized. While H employs her unconventional background to rescue the stranded survivors, H’s personality evolves to encompass her new dreary atmosphere. In one particular situation, while liberating a sweet older man, H stumbles upon her missing father as one of the infected. As expected, H is devastated; her military general of a father, despite his extensive training, managed to lose himself amongst the zombie pandemonium. As she struggles against her zombified father, H is tackling an internal battle of her own; to kill or not to kill? The very act of ending her father, or rather his infected remains, would haunt her for of the rest of her days. He is her father after all; how can a daughter be expected to end the life of her father, despite the lack of any other foreseeable outcome.
However, H realizes how selfish and dangerous it would be to spare her father. If released, her father has the potential to not only hurt herself but also countless others. With great sadness, H makes the difficult decision to kill her father. Once the deed has been done, H shuts herself off; refusing to process the consequences of her actions. This dreadful interaction highlights key aspects of H’s personality, like her compassion as well as her sense of right and wrong. For instance, when presented with the bombshell of her infected father, H sympathizes for what her family has lost but realizes that the right thing to do for the good of humanity as well as her father is to end it quickly. Her internal debate also emphasizes her ability to forgive. Thrust into a punishing hellhole is hard to forget and certainly harder to forgive. However, as time progresses, it is evident that H’s resentment towards her father subtly subsides. Only love and sadness reside in her final moments with her father. In all, H is a strong yet determined character with a refreshing attitude (and excellent taste in food) amongst the gloom and doom of the apocalypse.
Prior to the end of the world, H was not much into romance. Sure, she has had her fair share of relationships, but nothing that truly inspired her heart to skip or her stomach to flutter. That is, until Jonah is introduced. Barricaded in a makeshift shelter surrounded by comic books, Jonah’s first appearance was quite comical, filled with ridiculous yet flirtatious banter. Despite H’s protests, Jonah tags along in her quest to save humanity and escape the quarantined zone. Amongst their journey, Jonah’s actions and behavior hint at not only his personality but also his feelings for H. For instance, when visiting a shelter (under the guise of military), Jonah comes to H’s aid when her fake story starts to fall flat. In one situation, his demeanor and stance change into one of authority, pressuring the shelter’s guards to let them in. And, in another, he is able to fight off the guards and get both himself and H to safety.
Since we are initially led to believe that Jonah has no combat knowledge, this is quite astonishing. Upon H’s insistent questions, Jonah reveals that his mom was a Russian spy in the recent war, explaining his impressive know how in battle. However, this confession not only expresses his resentment towards his past, but also his affinity for peace. Specifically, he does not want to use violence as a means to an end; he believes that there exists another way, one that is less vicious. Consequently, with his mom employed to utilize violence, Jonah regrets her decision and her overall influence; he believes in one thing but is taught to respect the opposite. Another perspective that is revealed through his actions in this (and many other) circumstances is that Jonah cares for H. He wishes to protect her, even in her misguided ways. Later in the story, Jonah confesses to H that he cannot imagine what he would do, if she were to get hurt. He simply cannot imagine it, because it would break him. Furthermore, once H recognizes what her feelings for him mean, H allows herself to jump head first into a relationship with him, regardless of the consequences. In all, Jonah was a great counterpart to H; where she was unrelenting, he was yielding. Their romance and eventual relationship just supports the age old theory that opposites attract.
In summary, Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel was absolutely brilliant. As a fan of both zombies and romance, I knew this would be a fast and exciting read. The suspenseful yet gripping plot was an added bonus. One specific moment that left me stunned is when the true intentions of the zombie virus were revealed. The woman behind H’s secret military program was responsible for the outbreak all along; she released this man-made zombie virus with the end goal of controlling the minds and actions of the successfully infected soldiers with the flip of a switch. As a result, these mindless soldiers (those who survived the virus with purple eyes) would do her bidding within a moment’s notice; allowing her desire of world domination to become a reality. Fortunately, H and Jonah are able to stop her evil plans; not only curing the successfully infected (including H) but also exposing her plans to the government, effectively terminating the zombie outbreak.
An additional compelling aspect of Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel is the cast of sensational characters. One such individual (besides our main duo) is a sweet old man named Bill. In her initial rescue mission, H saves Bill from a horde of stinkers inside an abandoned gas station. This liberation allows for Bill to not only live another day but also to become a minor parental figure to H for the duration of this insane crisis. Despite her original beliefs, H actually needed Bill for her overall journey, his comedic relief as well as his critical wisdom influenced H to change; his incredible pizza making skills don’t hurt either. Unfortunately, Bill does not survive to see the end of this apocalypse. His shocking yet devastating death was excruciating to witness for not only myself but also for H. An alternate ending, where he survives, needs to exist so that I can forget his death and remember what happiness feels like. Overall, I cannot recommend Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel enough. If you have a love for The Walking Dead and romance in general, definitely pick up this novel!
Harmony: A Pizza vs. Zombies Novel by Amanda Kelly & Mairym Castro was published on June 20, 2018. To discover the harmony between falling in love and slaughtering the undead, follow the link below:
Do you find yourself craving a slice of the Pizza vs Zombies world? Alleviate this desire by visiting the authors’ websites below:
Amanda Kelly Goodreads
Mairym Castro Goodreads
My Rating: 5/5