cover image Idol, Burning

Idol, Burning

Rin Usami, trans. from the Japanese by Asa Yoneda. HarperVia, $24.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-06-321328-9

Usami (Kaka) delivers a gut-wrenching tale of obsession and social media. High school junior Akari is obsessed with J-Pop idol Masaki Ueno, and after Masaki is accused of assaulting a fan, his fan base splinters and Akari’s fixation on him intensifies. She encourages her social media followers to support him and devotes all her money and energy to deluded attempts to help him, such as buying up his secondhand merchandise and posting a video of herself eating a cake in his honor. She loses a dangerous amount of weight, wears her hair over her face to hide her worsening acne, and struggles at school. Eventually, the strain she puts on her family comes to a head, and news breaks about the end of Masaki’s future in the entertainment industry, forcing Akari to look within herself for answers. Usami’s unflinching depiction of a deeply alienated young woman makes for powerful commentary on the toxicity of social media and fan culture. This short novel packs a punch. (Nov.)