Mar 232023

Publishers Weekly: Kusano brings the vibrant world of J-Pop into stunning clarity in their near-future debut novella. Rei must navigate the semidystopian world of Japanese pop idols as a solo act after her best friend and former duo member, Ririko, gets caught with a secret boyfriend despite a contractual obligation not to fall in love. In the wake of this scandal, Rei’s success hinges on her role as the singing voice of a character on a popular anime, and her overbearing manager frequently reminds her how tenuous her career is. Meanwhile, she can’t help being drawn to the music of her main competitor, a lifelike computer-generated idol called Lyrico. With a hotshot young recruit to Rei’s talent agency nipping at her heels, Rei must work out her feelings for Lyrico and determine if the new trainee will be friend or foe. Rei makes for a fascinating protagonist held captive in a glittering world. The author holds readers in a similarly tight grip, immersing them in imagined future Japanese pop culture. Kusano shows real promise.