Hybrid Heart by Iori Kusano

“Kusano, an Asian American living in Tokyo, makes their debut with this novella set in a near-future Japan, where people have software apps installed in their bodies that allow them to interact online in their minds, and human pop stars compete for fame against digital vocaloid singers. Rei is a human “idol,” an entertainer with a corporate manufactured image created for purely commercial purposes. She loves to sing and aspired to this life, but then her singing partner Ririko abandoned their idol life for love. Now Rei is even more strictly managed by Kosaka, who controls every aspect of her life from her songs and performances to what she eats and where she goes. Rei tries to navigate handling Kosaka and garnering more fame while still missing Ririko and obsessing over singer LYRICO, who hides behind an avatar. When Kosaka takes on a new, younger singer, Rei begins to see her life for what it is more clearly and has to decide what she wants for herself.

VERDICT Give this to fans of manga and anime for an insightful, speculative glimpse into Japanese pop culture.” — Library Journal