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A Song for a New Day

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In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection. In the Before, when the government didn't prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just take In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection. In the Before, when the government didn't prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce's connection to the world--her music, her purpose--is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law. Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery--no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she'll have to do something she's never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.


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In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection. In the Before, when the government didn't prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just take In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection. In the Before, when the government didn't prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce's connection to the world--her music, her purpose--is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law. Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery--no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she'll have to do something she's never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.

30 review for A Song for a New Day

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Power of music could never be defeated, silenced, destroyed even at the apocalyptic world threatened by full of terrorist attacks that prevent people gather at the outside to share their joy, spirit, excitement, fun, entertainment, laughs at the open concert arenas. There are so many amazing quotes emphasizes the importance of music in modern people’s lives as listed below: “Where words leave off, music begins” “Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of Power of music could never be defeated, silenced, destroyed even at the apocalyptic world threatened by full of terrorist attacks that prevent people gather at the outside to share their joy, spirit, excitement, fun, entertainment, laughs at the open concert arenas. There are so many amazing quotes emphasizes the importance of music in modern people’s lives as listed below: “Where words leave off, music begins” “Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of the spirit and never dies.” “So where words fail, music speaks…” It is the universal language of mankind which fills the cup of silence. It is also language of the spirit which opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife… And let’s get back to our story-line: Luce is a gifted musician who is determined enough fight against the odds because she doesn’t have any intention to surrender without a fight. Her music can be silenced! People need tunes to express their joy, sadness, depression, loneliness, emotional turmoil and they need band artists’ performances to gather all those emotions and pour down with the lyrics and rhythm to feed their souls and feel alive again! Terrorist attacks created a brand new, terrifying world full of scared people who locked at their own places, couldn’t be brave enough to take a step to the outer world because of contagious deadly virus’ presence. NO MUSIC, NO PUBLIC, NO HUMAN CONNECTION. Poor future people turned themselves the reluctant prisoners and worst fact about their lives is even the prisoners can listen music and gather together the prison back yard!!! So they designed a new cyberspace to prevent the madness of people who were trapped inside their heads. This is HOODSPACE helps you connect with the virtual reality by wearing a hoodie! So Luce resumes performing at the illegal concerts and her path with Rosemary crosses. Rosemary accepted the job as music talent, obliged to bring the music back to the virtual reality and she needs cooperation of Luce. No need to tell more, you need to read the rest of the story to learn what happened with those characters and did they win the fight against restrictions of listening to the music freely and having a proper, real human contact. Plot is intriguing, terrifying (especially for me because music is the second best thing feeding my soul and my body at the same time. Number choice is always Chardonnay but yes maybe I should write some alternative sci-fi, horror about the people who were suffering lack of booze in the future world and becoming insane!) and characters especially badass, gifted, tough, fighter Luce is my favorite. So luckily this time I didn’t use my hands for my fantasy of struggling or slapping one of those villain characters. I used them to applause the writer’s creative thinking and the virtual music notes she inserted inside my head! So I really enjoyed this book dystopian, controversial, original, unique work by giving my supportive, entertaining and somewhat chilling FOUR FULL STARS! Let’s finish this with the words of one of my favorite guitarists at the universe: “Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.” ― Keith Richards Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for sharing this amazing work of talented author Sarah Pinsker in exchange my honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    A sci fi dystopian novel featuring music? ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ I loved this fascinating and original premise. A Song for a New Day, no surprise with that title, features music. Luce Cannon is at the top of her game when large public gatherings are allowed during the “Before” because everyone artist knows concerts help sell music. But now it’s the After, and viral outbreaks, as well as mass shootings and terror attacks, have caused the government to ban concerts. That doesn’t stop Luce, though A sci fi dystopian novel featuring music? ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ I loved this fascinating and original premise. A Song for a New Day, no surprise with that title, features music. Luce Cannon is at the top of her game when large public gatherings are allowed during the “Before” because everyone artist knows concerts help sell music. But now it’s the After, and viral outbreaks, as well as mass shootings and terror attacks, have caused the government to ban concerts. That doesn’t stop Luce, though. She performs concerts to small audiences trying to evade the law. Rosemary Laws is a recluse, working in customer service but not really having contact with people. She discovers a way to bring concerts back to everyone using virtual reality. But what she’s doing is still illegal. Dystopian fans, you are going to want to read this book! Vividly real, exciting, and filled with true-to-life, genuine characters, I enjoyed every bit of this story. I also loved the prominent role music played in the story, and the fact that concerts were banned? I could completely see that happening in the future, though it would be devastating. If you are looking for a book to get lost in, check out A Song for a New Day. Well-written and supremely engaging, I loved it! I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    Sarah Pinsker has written a captivating dystopian/speculative fiction story that prominently features music. While this is not my usual genre it blends two of my favorite things music and books, and I loved it! Pinsker’s Love and appreciation for music especially live music comes across loud and clear in this story. Luce Cannon(Got to love that name) is a musician on the way to the top when the government calls for a halt to all live concerts. Not only concerts but most large social gatherings h Sarah Pinsker has written a captivating dystopian/speculative fiction story that prominently features music. While this is not my usual genre it blends two of my favorite things music and books, and I loved it! Pinsker’s Love and appreciation for music especially live music comes across loud and clear in this story. Luce Cannon(Got to love that name) is a musician on the way to the top when the government calls for a halt to all live concerts. Not only concerts but most large social gatherings have been banned, do to continuous terrorist attacks. Rosemary spends her days working from home in customer service for a Walmart/Amazon hybrid. She is given an amazing opportunity to attend an online concert. This leads to a job offer to travel and search out bands who are willing to perform these online concerts. Luce and Rosemary’s haves cross one day at a underground banned concert. Luce and Rosemary are on opposite sides of the issue, will Rosemarys actions cause Luce to go further underground? So what will happen when the two meet up again? Will this be the “day the music died”? Luce was A dynamic character with a tremendous passion for music and performing live. Rosemary was a quieter character but I found her to be a little more sympathetic I could really understand her inner conflict. The story was much more character driven than plot driven. I think dystopian/speculative fiction fans who are desiring a lot of world building might be a little disappointed, I myself wish the lead up to why the world was this way was addressed more in the book. But I don’t think this impacted my overall enjoyment of this riveting story. This really was a love letter to music and a warning letter to the Reader. While the idea of attending a concert from the comfort of your home Mike sound fabulous, we really don’t ever want to lose the human connection. This book in three emojis: 🎫 🎼 🎸

  4. 5 out of 5

    MissBecka

    You can feel Pinsker's love for music and touring bleed through the pages of this book. She described the moments so well you could practically smell the sweat in the venues! This was fabulous!!! Giant thank you to Sarah Pinsker for my signed ARC received at BookCon; It was a joy to meet you!!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Anders

    I was lucky enough to read an early copy of A Song for a New Day a while ago, and it's stuck with me. This vision of a world without live music (and without real community) feels extra relevant in an era where we're all glued to our screens and social media is all about driving "engagement" rather than creating real connection with each other. Pinsker's characters feel real and grounded, and the stories of being a touring musician and a talent scout for a VR concert company are full of really we I was lucky enough to read an early copy of A Song for a New Day a while ago, and it's stuck with me. This vision of a world without live music (and without real community) feels extra relevant in an era where we're all glued to our screens and social media is all about driving "engagement" rather than creating real connection with each other. Pinsker's characters feel real and grounded, and the stories of being a touring musician and a talent scout for a VR concert company are full of really well-observed details. Sarah Pinsker has written a wonderful epic about music, community, and rediscovering the things that make us human.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    In the near future, the USA is a very different place. After a spate of bombings and the outbreak of a deadly virus known colloquially as 'the pox', public gatherings are forbidden. Live concerts and sport are things of the past. It becomes more common to study, work and socialise in virtual reality, and many young people never leave their homes. 24-year-old Rosemary is one of them, but she's becoming restless. When she's blown away by a virtual concert organised by a company called StageHolo, R In the near future, the USA is a very different place. After a spate of bombings and the outbreak of a deadly virus known colloquially as 'the pox', public gatherings are forbidden. Live concerts and sport are things of the past. It becomes more common to study, work and socialise in virtual reality, and many young people never leave their homes. 24-year-old Rosemary is one of them, but she's becoming restless. When she's blown away by a virtual concert organised by a company called StageHolo, Rosemary applies to work for them and (to her own surprise) is employed as a talent scout. The job leads her to cross paths with another important character: Luce, who was an up-and-coming musician in the world 'Before', and now runs an illegal underground club. Luce's fierce love of music and Rosemary's quest to break out of her isolated existence are both fascinating threads. I started off totally on board with the plot. Luce's passion felt authentic, and I loved reading about Rosemary as she tried to get to grips with the difficulties of meeting people in real life – in many ways a perfect analogue of what it's like to move through the world when you have social anxiety. This is a book that's generally very kind to its characters – their insecurities and foibles, the areas in which they lack experience or knowledge – and the diversity of the cast is handled well too (with, for example, white not being treated as the default). But I have to say that by the halfway point I was ready for the story to be over. That's not because it's boring or badly written – there are loads of great ideas in here, and some scenes/moments are truly beautiful – but something's off with the pacing; things seem to get going, then... tail off. It's never clear how this world's version of virtual reality works, and I was constantly getting distracted by what seemed to be contradictions, or details that simply didn't make sense, particularly around how the 'hoodies' were supposed to work. Plus, crucially, Luce and Rosemary are more interesting individually than they are together. Really, I probably shouldn't have finished this. The problem was that by the time I'd realised it wasn't going anywhere great, I'd already read almost 200 pages, and felt like I was too immersed in the story to just give up. That's my problem – 'dumping' a book I've spent several days on is something I need to get better at. A Song for a New Day is a likeable story with a few flaws, and I'm sure it will work better for some readers than it did for me. Pick it up if you're interested in reading about music and human connection and don't mind rambling, meandering scenes; avoid if you're looking for a propulsive plot and/or an effective depiction of near-future society. I received an advance review copy of A Song for a New Day from the publisher through NetGalley. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  7. 4 out of 5

    E.

    illegal concerts?? two queer women?? ok, i'm in __________________________ insta | twitter | blog | booksirens | duolingo

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Luce Cannon's music career is taking off with her song "Blood and Diamonds".  She's touring with a great band and loves playing live and winning over new audiences every night. Then everything changes.  Terror attacks send the U.S. into a panic and then comes a deadly virus that spreads quickly.  The government steps in to enact congregation laws banning large public gatherings.  People begin to live their lives without human contact, living and working online in Hoodspace (a hoodie i Luce Cannon's music career is taking off with her song "Blood and Diamonds".  She's touring with a great band and loves playing live and winning over new audiences every night. Then everything changes.  Terror attacks send the U.S. into a panic and then comes a deadly virus that spreads quickly.  The government steps in to enact congregation laws banning large public gatherings.  People begin to live their lives without human contact, living and working online in Hoodspace (a hoodie is worn to connect to virtual reality). Luce's music will not be silenced.  She takes her royalties and begins performing illegal concerts to those who remember "the Before" and human connection. Rosemary Laws is too young to remember much from the Before.  Her entire life has basically been in Hoodspace:  school, friends, dating, and now her job as a customer service rep for the corporate giant Superwally (think Wal-Mart & Amazon combined).  She lives on a wind farm in a small town with her parents who are the only people she has contact with regularly.   She lucks out when she's given tickets to an online concert and discovers a love of music.  Then she's offered a job seeking out new musical talent to sign who will bring their music to virtual reality.  The catch?  She'll not only be going out in public regularly but traveling to cities she's only heard about and attending illegal concerts. Alternating between Luce and Rosemary's stories, their paths eventually connect.  Luce mourns the Before, offering insight into music and human connection that makes Rosemary begin to question the way things have become. A Song for a New Day is a dystopian/speculative fiction novel set in the near future.  The plot feels entirely plausible, the atmosphere is exciting, and the characters feel authentic.  I wish there'd been more explanation about the Before; essentially all we know is that some terrorists wreaked havoc and were eventually caught but people remain fearful.  Readers get some background on the two MCs (mostly Luce) and world-building (I would've loved a bit more!) but the primary focus in this novel is the music and human connection.   A Song for a New Day is intense, immersive, and highly entertaining.  I recommend this to readers who are passionate about music and enjoy modern day dystopias / speculative fiction. Thanks to Berkley Books and the Penguin First to Read program for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  A Song for a New Day is scheduled for release on September 3, 2019. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I quite enjoyed reading A SONG FOR A NEW DAY. The story takes place in the future after a sickness kills a lot of people, and a new law goes into effect where people are not allowed to congregate. Luce Cannon headlined the last concert of any real size before the new law and had been headed to the top of the music scene. Luce begins to perform in illegal concerts. It is time for the country to change!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Sarah Pinsker’s love of music shines through in this wonderful debut, where two women might just have enough moxie between them to change the world. I suppose you could call A Song for a New Day dystopian fiction, but it’s unlike any dystopian I’ve ever read. This story is full of hope, and even better, it’s full of hopeful characters. Lucereview.The I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Sarah Pinsker’s love of music shines through in this wonderful debut, where two women might just have enough moxie between them to change the world. I suppose you could call A Song for a New Day dystopian fiction, but it’s unlike any dystopian I’ve ever read. This story is full of hope, and even better, it’s full of hopeful characters. Luce and Rosemary are as different from one another as night and day, but they do have a few important similarities. They both love music, and neither one of them ever gives up. This combination makes for an unusual futuristic story that is less about the science fiction elements and more about the characters and their relationships. The story switches back and forth between two main characters. Luce is a talented musician, on the cusp of becoming a household name after her song “Blood and Diamonds” takes off. But on the eve of an important live concert, disaster strikes the United States. In the span of an evening, venues all over the country like stadiums and concert halls receive bomb threats, and society begins to crumble. When the threats continue—along with actual bombings—a set of strict laws called the congregation laws go into effect, and people are no longer allowed to come together for things like music concerts, sporting events, or even attend amusement parks or museums. Musicians, unable to legally perform for fans in public, begin to go underground, and secret bars and clubs pop up everywhere.  At the same time, an insidious viral disease is spreading, claiming the lives of those people who don’t seek medical help soon enough. The combination of the disease and the bomb threats has caused people to become alienated from each other. People rely on “Hoodies,” virtual reality headgear that allows you to “be” with other people, when in reality everyone is safe in their own space. Told in another timeline, Rosemary is a young woman living in the After—after the bomb threats and the pox swept across the country. She’s lived on her family’s farm her entire life, and at the age of twenty-four has a good job at Superwally, an Amazon-like store where employees work from home and use Hoodies to conduct business with others. Rosemary is a competent customer service representative and retreats to her bedroom each day to do her job. One day, she’s invited by a vendor to attend a virtual concert, something she’s never done before. The concert, an eye-opening experience, show her that there might be life outside of the farm and Superwally, and so she takes a risk and accepts a job as a “talent recruiter” at StageHoloLive, a company that produces live concert experiences in a safe, VR environment. As you might suspect, Rosemary’s and Luce’s paths will eventually converge, and when they do, things will not go smoothly at all. Pinsker touches on some important themes in her story, like how one person can start big changes, and no one exemplifies this more than Rosemary. Rosemary is an interesting character. She’s extremely naive when the story begins. She’s never been on a bus, been to a live concert, or stood in a room with a crowd. She’s terrified of being touched, probably because of the danger of disease which still lingers. Rosemary even has panic attacks when she finds herself in a room with a crowd of people for the first time, and I felt terrible for her. And she’s not perfect. She makes plenty of cringe-worthy mistakes, especially when she meets Luce and her band, but she actually learns from those mistakes, which was refreshing. The reader gets to see her gradually change her world view, which was delightful. When she leaves home for the first time, she must navigate new cities where people still gather in public, and her job requires her to seek out and attend illegal music concerts. I loved how much she grows by the end of the book, and even more, I love how organic and natural that change felt. Luce is also a wonderful character, and I’m so very happy that Pinsker didn’t turn her into a caricature of a rock star. Luce genuinely cares for other people and usually puts others before herself. She has a rocky relationship with her Jewish family, who cannot accept the fact that she’s gay, but she loves and forgives them anyway. And best of all, Luce is consumed by music. She cannot imagine any other life for herself, and she takes risks in order to preserve that life. She has a unique perspective because she’s lived both in the Before and the After, and I love the little details Pinsker adds that show her awareness of how drastically things have changed. In one scene, she and her roommates start a “Don’t Forget Normal” list where they write down everything they remember from Before on the walls of their apartment. It was poignant and heartbreaking. And of course, there is the music. Pinsker is a musician herself, and her experience adds a unique flavor to the story. Luce’s life on the road, going from gig to gig, isn’t easy at all, but her love of music is powerful enough that she and her fellow musicians will gladly suffer in order to do what they love most. All the details Pinsker adds about lugging heavy instruments around, sleeping in cars, and the blood, sweat and tears of live performances make the experience of being a musician jump off the page, and I could practically hear the thrum of the bass and the squeal of the amps. I did have some issues with a couple of things. I’ll admit the dueling timelines were confusing in the beginning. It took going back and rereading a few sections to realize that there are about twelve years between the initial bombings and the point where we meet Rosemary. The story seems to go from “today,” what I imagined might be 2019, to the “future” in the blink of an eye, where virtual reality is commonplace and everyone goes around with Hoodies in order to communicate. Self-driving cars are also mentioned in this future, and the superstore Superwally seems to own just about all the market share on anything you need to buy (And the products are all delivered by drone. No need to leave the house!). What would have helped me a lot, and other readers I suspect, would have been a date designation at the beginning of each chapter. And let’s talk about the Hoodies for a moment. I cannot for the life of me picture what a Hoodie looks like. I love the idea of being able to not only use Hoodies as a separation device from other people, but the ability to literally do anything in “hoodspace” was pretty cool. But is it like a sweatshirt hoodie that you simply pull over your head when you need it? Or is it more like a helmet with a clear plastic cover that protects your face? I need some artists out there to create some fan art for A Song for a New Day so I can see what one looks like! But in the end, these issues really didn’t matter much. Pinsker doesn’t wrap her story up in a neat little bow at the end, and I was OK with that. Instead, she suggests that perhaps the future is about to change for the better. Rosemary and Luce are both brave enough to take leaps of faith and follow their hearts. A small change could be nothing more than a ripple on the surface of a pond, or it could be a rock that starts an avalanche. I turned the last page with a feeling of hope, and that’s a wonderful feeling to have. Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley. I'm a big fan of Sarah Pinsker's work. I adored her collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea and have been genuinely excited that her first novel would be inspired by her fantastic novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road." The book absolutely lived up to my high expectations. Pinsker's science fiction is eerily plausible: a near-future world where a series of terrorist attacks and illness with high mortality h I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley. I'm a big fan of Sarah Pinsker's work. I adored her collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea and have been genuinely excited that her first novel would be inspired by her fantastic novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road." The book absolutely lived up to my high expectations. Pinsker's science fiction is eerily plausible: a near-future world where a series of terrorist attacks and illness with high mortality have led to laws against congregations of people. Society fully embraces the digital and insular, relying on drone delivery for most all goods and on virtual experiences for dating, sports events, and--most notably for this book--concerts, with StageHoloLive being the major purveyor of much entertainment. Enter the two protagonists: Luce, a gifted musician on the cusp of going big when the world fell apart, and Rosemary, a young woman rendered agoraphobic by her parents and culture, but who perkily heads out to find undercover musical acts as part of her new job for StageHoloLive. All of the characters in the book are nuanced and realistic, and Pinsker's own background in bands completely grounds the world. This develops into a book with some shades of Charles de Lint's works, yet with an original, fresh approach to a timeless theme: a celebration of music, of EXPERIENCING music, of how much more is involved than merely listening. This book is beautiful, and its depths with linger with me for a long while.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Standback

    I found myself firmly awake at 3:30 AM, I said, OK, let's read a few more pages of "A Song For A New Day." Aaaaanyway, at 5:30 AM I had finished the book... It's a fantastic book. I love Pinsker's short stories, but had no idea what to expect from novel-length. I think that instead of writing a "bigger" or "longer" story, she's written a *deeper* one. So much of the story is just being immersed in what drives Luce and Rosemary. And, with musi I found myself firmly awake at 3:30 AM, I said, OK, let's read a few more pages of "A Song For A New Day." Aaaaanyway, at 5:30 AM I had finished the book... It's a fantastic book. I love Pinsker's short stories, but had no idea what to expect from novel-length. I think that instead of writing a "bigger" or "longer" story, she's written a *deeper* one. So much of the story is just being immersed in what drives Luce and Rosemary. And, with music and creation as a focal point, the story explores issues that are very human, and very pressing: Different kinds and concepts of communities, and how each has their pros and cons, even as its members can't imagine living any other way. Or the tradeoff: personal integrity and authenticity, vs. having a wide reach. It's a compelling and thought-provoking book. I'm glad I got physical copy, and not some holographic Superwally version I wouldn't be able to lend to friends 🙃

  13. 4 out of 5

    Félix

    Sarah rings the bell with this, her first novel. Can't wait for the next one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristeen Hughes

    round up to 4.5 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I enjoyed this one, both for its fantastic descriptions of music (how it feels to see a live show, the power of a great song, the community) and for its timely warning about how a society can fracture and fall into isolation and mistrust due to blind belief and authority-stoked fear. I would have liked Pinsker to expand a bit more on Luce's background growing up in a very closed community since it was a prescient allegory for the events to come. I also wanted to know what happened after the endi I enjoyed this one, both for its fantastic descriptions of music (how it feels to see a live show, the power of a great song, the community) and for its timely warning about how a society can fracture and fall into isolation and mistrust due to blind belief and authority-stoked fear. I would have liked Pinsker to expand a bit more on Luce's background growing up in a very closed community since it was a prescient allegory for the events to come. I also wanted to know what happened after the ending! Overall, a really creative take on the dystopian genre that often hits pretty close to home.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Tas

    Read this review, and other Sci Fi/Fantasy reviews at The Quill To Live As with a lot of people, music has played a defining role in my life. I never really played an instrument (fifth-grade trumpet does not count), but it was always there in the background guiding how I viewed the world. However, my tastes and attitudes in the past few years have changed greatly from my punk and power metal days of high school to a more individualized and private set list of artists scattered throughout Ban Read this review, and other Sci Fi/Fantasy reviews at The Quill To Live As with a lot of people, music has played a defining role in my life. I never really played an instrument (fifth-grade trumpet does not count), but it was always there in the background guiding how I viewed the world. However, my tastes and attitudes in the past few years have changed greatly from my punk and power metal days of high school to a more individualized and private set list of artists scattered throughout Bandcamp. I find myself mesmerized by the subdued vibrancy of vaporwave more often than not, and I get easily separated from current popular tastes, making it harder to share my favorites with those around me. So when I heard there was a novel about illegal underground concerts in a future where public gatherings are outlawed, my interest was piqued and the folks at Berkley were kind enough to indulge me. Song for a New Day, by Sarah Pinsker, is a reflective yet energetic story about the power of music to create community in a time of extreme alienation. Pinsker’s novel follows Luce Cannon, a musician on the cusp of stardom, whose future of playing for her fans ends with everyone else’s. Luce is on tour when bomb threats start to permeate the nation, causing a wave of uncertainty and fear that anywhere could be hit. As she plays her last known concert, one of the threats is actually carried out, killing hundreds of people. Afterwards, an epidemic of disease leads to laws banning public gatherings, followed by companies eager to offer services that allow people to stay in their homes. Rosemary Laws, a second protagonist, grows up in this new world, known as ‘the After’. Her parents move to a farm to increase their sense of safety, further increasing their isolation from a progressively more insular world. She barely remembers what it’s like to have lived in ‘the Before’, spending most of her time in a virtual space that allows her to do her job from afar. When she is presented with a chance to do something different, Rosemary seizes the opportunity and takes a job at StageHoloLive to search for new musical acts in person. This seemingly unrelated chain of events facilitates her eventual run-in with our other lead, Luce Cannon. The main story is a joy to read as Pinsker interweaves her two narratives together, creating a mentor/student relationship where both character’s take turns in each role. Luce’s story starts with the slow and fairly realistic creation of the After, eventually digging into her attempts to cope within the new paradigm. The anonymous terror threats paired with the outbreak of a deadly disease lead to a self-imposed isolation that everyone seemed “okay with” in order to secure a safer life. Through Luce’s eyes, the reader is shown an incredibly personal account of the events, getting piecemeal snippets of the events as they occur. The author’s choice to focus on the everyday effects really drew me in, tying me to Luce and the people she surrounds herself with. On the other hand, Rosemary’s story highlighted the contented alienation most people would probably have resigned themselves to. Her parents isolating her to keep her safe, leaving her with a dead-end job, nothing to do, and nowhere to go. Seeing Rosemary learn how to navigate in a society she barely understood and learn how to be around other people was engaging and empowering. While the story was enjoyable, Pinsker’s characters made it all the more impactful. Rosemary and Luce felt incredibly human. Their decisions have real consequences that sometimes didn’t get cleaned up, making their journeys feel all the more personal. Rosemary’s need to explore the world paired with her culturally imposed naivete put her in some dangerous situations. Luce had a defiance to her that was whispered with every breath. However, it seemed to become a feeling of comfort, allowing her to explore her music without exploring herself or the world around her. These two dynamics played off each other extremely well, each character’s actions affected one another like dominoes. Pinsker’s ability to portray self reflection touched me deeply, as the thought processes Rosemary and Luce both went through felt very relatable. Their ability to screw up, and then pick themselves up and try again with a different approach was inspiring. Pinsker avoided making these moments feel cheap by grounding them in very deliberate and reconciliatory actions that felt natural to the character’s sensibilities. The book’s themes of rebuilding community and self discovery dripped off every page, supported heavily by Pinsker’s approach to narrative. The entire book felt deliberate, blending style and substance almost seamlessly. The dual narrative allowed her characters’ insecurities to play off each other, giving the story a more natural flow. Pinsker highlights this duality by writing them in different perspectives, Luce being written in the first person, with Rosemary in the informed third person. It allowed me to sink into Luce’s world-weary and largely individualized defiance and feel the comfort of “doing what I can.” Rosemary becomes the perfect contrast, as her careless curiosity and need to prove herself drive a lot of the action. The third person style allowed me time to reflect, as if another person were there, guiding the introspection. There were a few cheesy moments, but they didn’t stick out in any seriously intrusive ways. There is so much to talk about with this book, it’s honestly hard to contain within a few paragraphs. Pinsker has an amazing ability to write concerts in a way that puts the reader in the thick of it. There is a rawness to the story that pulled me along and left me needing more every time I had to set the book down. It made me yearn for the pit in the middle of a show, screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs, shoulder to shoulder with other euphoric strangers. On top of all of that, it made me think about how I engage with the people around me in my everyday life; how it’s easier to just put on my headphones and walk through the world to my own prescribed beat, instead of opening my ears to those around me. It’s tough and scary to think about building or participating in a community, let alone actually doing it. It isn’t any easier in Song for a New Day, but it makes the work feel worth doing. Rating: Song for a New Day – 8.5/10 -Alex

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    A book that explores a really interesting concept. Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! A Song for a New Day takes a fascinating--and at times haunting--look at a future in which the threat of mass danger, from bombs to shootings, has become so large that large public gatherings have been banned and are now illegal. There are 'congregation' laws that limit how many people can be in one place at a time and that regulate the size a building must be in concordance with how many people live A book that explores a really interesting concept. Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! A Song for a New Day takes a fascinating--and at times haunting--look at a future in which the threat of mass danger, from bombs to shootings, has become so large that large public gatherings have been banned and are now illegal. There are 'congregation' laws that limit how many people can be in one place at a time and that regulate the size a building must be in concordance with how many people live there. Additionally, there was a disease that swept through the country and further encouraged people to remain seclusive and not venture out into areas where large groups of people gather that can spread germs. A Song for a New Day switches POV between Luce, lead singer of a band, and Rosemary, a woman who has been living a fairly secluded life with her family while working virtually from her home. Luce's POV starts out in the past and slowly merges with Rosemary's present day, which presented some really interesting perspectives and background throughout the story. Luce is a bit like your typical musician/rocker, desiring nothing but to connect with others through her music and live her life touring around and sharing her music. The social changes that take place in this future-esque world hit musicians like Luce extremely hard and she has to sort of adapt to a new way of life and a new sneakier method of showcasing live music. Luce is an impressively tough and adaptive woman that adds such an interesting perspective and has one of the biggest life changes throughout the book that we get to see. Rosemary was a really interesting character for a few reasons, most of which pertained to her sheer ignorance to most things that we take for granted everyday. Her complete lack of knowledge regarding how concerts even work, her naivete and innocence on what it's even like to visit somewhere far away from her home--especially a larger city such as Baltimore--and so many more relatively normal (for us) experiences. Experiencing all of these things through the lens of someone who grew up in a world in which taking the public bus, visiting a busy city, or even eating at a restaurant sans individual enclosed booths was genuinely fascinating. Pinsker really did a marvelous job of conveying her naivete and new experiences; she really noted every new thing Rosemary experienced and made it feel so plausible and authentic. It almost made me sad at times to see the things that were so foreign to Rosemary and how much we love doing those things today--imagine a world like that with no public gatherings, ever. Rosemary grows a lot over the course of this book and I liked seeing her journey, though I do think some aspects could have been developed a bit more. As mentioned, there was a lesser but still prominent disease angle at play at this book and I was interested in its effect on the current state of things as well. However... I was slightly confused as to why it was also included. I felt as though the book could have easily just focused on the congregation-related issues and been just as strong; the disease only seemed to exacerbate people's fear and lead to more struggles for our protagonist. Perhaps its purpose was simply to showcase the fear that can so easily spread among the pubic, but it seemed like a somewhat unnecessary addition to the plot. Despite my confusion over the disease storyline, I still appreciated everything else this book explored. I found this to be a really nuanced and interesting look at what this future filled with fear and danger would be like when taken to the extreme. I haven't read any other work from Pinsker before this one, but I will be sure to check out more from her! Overall, I've given A Song for a New Day four stars! I was fascinated by the concept and overall thoroughly enjoyed this one, though there were still just a few issues I had with it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kris Sellgren

    This “what if” science fiction novel starts from the premise that all public gatherings have been banned, after terrorist attacks (both bombs and a deadly virus) have devastated the US. Both school and work move on-line. Live music and sports become virtual. The author draws on her own experience as a rock musician touring and playing small venues to imagine an underground music scene where the act of playing for a crowd is not just a challenge to corporate America but is illegal. The descriptio This “what if” science fiction novel starts from the premise that all public gatherings have been banned, after terrorist attacks (both bombs and a deadly virus) have devastated the US. Both school and work move on-line. Live music and sports become virtual. The author draws on her own experience as a rock musician touring and playing small venues to imagine an underground music scene where the act of playing for a crowd is not just a challenge to corporate America but is illegal. The descriptions of how it feels to play rock music, and how it feels to be an audience member, are vivid and detailed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Corvus

    A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker is a near future dystopian cyberpunk speculative fiction novel (is that a redundant group of labels?) that centers women musicians and technology experts existing within an unjust society. This review will contain some information about the plot and characters, but I will attempt to keep it relatively spoiler free. The story is told from the perspectives of two queer women: Luce, who is a musician and composer of what seems to be some amalgamation A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker is a near future dystopian cyberpunk speculative fiction novel (is that a redundant group of labels?) that centers women musicians and technology experts existing within an unjust society. This review will contain some information about the plot and characters, but I will attempt to keep it relatively spoiler free. The story is told from the perspectives of two queer women: Luce, who is a musician and composer of what seems to be some amalgamation of rock music genres, and Rosemary, who is a computer expert stuck working for mega-corporations- Superwally and SHL- in order to survive. Live music gatherings, among other things, are illegal and Luce is doing everything in her power to keep the real-life music interaction alive. Rosemary becomes entangled in all of this when she begins working for a music corporation- StageHolo Live (SHL)- which organizes virtual concerts which can be experienced via "hoodies"- a sort of virtual reality technology that is worn by the user, allowing them to become integrated into the simulation. I enjoyed this book and found it captured my attention and interest well. I do have to say that one thing that was difficult to follow while reading was the timeline. It seems to be set in the future. But, then there are mentions of the 30-something characters having seen Neil Young and other older artists in concert. I kept thinking, wait, are we in an alternative reality to today? Or is this a very very near future in which someone my age could have witnessed these bands and also exist in this repressive anti-music regime? It was also not clear to me exactly why music gatherings were illegal. There are some dangerous occurrences such as bomb threats and disease outbreaks at the start of the novel that I assumed would be further explained later, but the story just sort of passes over them on to the story surrounding seeking out live music in a world where it is illegal. When I started the book, knowing this premise from the blurb, I assumed that the illegality of live music was some sort of repression of free expression by an authoritarian government. However, it is explained that music itself is not illegal, only gathering for live music (as well as protests.) So, I now wonder if it is promoted to "protect" from bomb threats or plague outbreaks. This is never really made clear to me aside from the fact that the illegality is real and oppressive. This is an acceptable way to create a dystopian environment, don't get me wrong. I don't necessarily need everything to be spelled out for me. But, when it is not, I prefer the world building to be a little more immersive than it was in this book. That said, I still felt drawn into the story. The environments that were created around live shows and everything surrounding them as well as Rosemary's lived experiences were very immersive. Something I really enjoyed about this book was the centering of queer women as main characters. Often a story that dares to put a queer women near the center will be too afraid to center more than one woman and will supplement with less marginalized characters. This author was brave enough to build the story around the lives of two queer women. It is not entirely clear if queerness itself is also illegal along with live music, but the weaving of queer and occasional trans characters into a story with oppressive governments and corrupt megacorportations obviously says something about both backgrounds. There was a bit of the assumption of universal whiteness- characters of color were introduced by their race while other characters are assumed to be white by default. So, the handling of race could have been better. But, overall, I enjoyed the character make up in this book a lot. In order to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, I won't say too many specifics about the plot. I will say there are some interesting twists and turns fitting in nicely with the classic cyberpunk genre (which I love.) The characters are well written, imperfect, relatable, and believable. The book is interesting with a premise I have not read about before. There are so many books in the world that I cannot say for sure whether the whole music take on the dystopia has been done before. But, it was original as far as my own experience goes. A Song for a New Day comes out in September of 2019 and is definitely worth a read. It will likely appeal to many audiences, but it is extra special for those of us who are LGBTQ to see ourselves represented in a story in such immersive ways. The story is not about being LGBTQ as much as the characters just happen to be. Thus, it is appropriate for anyone into dystopian stories, stories surrounding musicians, and/or cyberpunk fans.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachelle

    This book was really interesting! I loved the combination of punk music ethic and the ideas presented in it. I just wish it had been slightly less predictable. But that’s okay. It was still an enjoyable read overall.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    listened on audio. review to come.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    I'm having a hard time deciding what I thought of this book. I started it on a weekend when several senseless killings (aren't they all?) took place less than 13 hours apart, so the topic and the driving plot element hit a little too close to home. I have thoughts on the writing style and how the plot develops, but they're jumbled together with the realization that I can totally see something like the totalitarian world it takes place in becoming a reality and I can't figure out how to express m I'm having a hard time deciding what I thought of this book. I started it on a weekend when several senseless killings (aren't they all?) took place less than 13 hours apart, so the topic and the driving plot element hit a little too close to home. I have thoughts on the writing style and how the plot develops, but they're jumbled together with the realization that I can totally see something like the totalitarian world it takes place in becoming a reality and I can't figure out how to express myself. So I'll just leave it as read and promise to come back after time and distance have (hopefully) helped me figure out what I think of it. UPDATE After much thought and deliberation over the last month, I've decided that this book deserves an upward-tilting 3.5 stars because, at its heart, it's a story that inspires the reader to believe that horrible things aren't meant to push you into hiding but to truly live. And that's a message that I'm all for. However, as much as I enjoyed leading lady Luce and the way the book treats live music in general, I could never get into how Pinsker writes. It feels a bit clunky and it just isn't my type of narrative storytelling. Despite that, there are some very strong elements in the story and a couple of solid messages that definitely deserve some attention so I'm doubling down on my wishy-washy review and actually telling readers that this is something that deserves some attention.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Dyer

    Round up to 4.5 stars. An incredible debut novel!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    [Penguin Random House Canada sent me an ARC of ‘A Song for a New Day’ in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!] - After finishing this book I’m left kind of confused. On one hand, I found this story pretty interesting at times, but on the other hand, I just don’t think this has to have been close to 400 pages. The description of being at a live concert is beautiful; It’s raw power, community and acceptance. I loved that. This story also had a pretty interesting dystopian setting (o [Penguin Random House Canada sent me an ARC of ‘A Song for a New Day’ in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!] - After finishing this book I’m left kind of confused. On one hand, I found this story pretty interesting at times, but on the other hand, I just don’t think this has to have been close to 400 pages. The description of being at a live concert is beautiful; It’s raw power, community and acceptance. I loved that. This story also had a pretty interesting dystopian setting (one that could totally happen in the future, if you ask me) and the technology was cool, but I felt it wasn’t completely fleshed out. I still have a lot of questions about how and why things got to where they are, and I found the timeline to be a bit confusing. In the beginning of the book, the characters just completely rubbed me the wrong way— they came off as self centred. As the story went on, though, they grew on me and I began to enjoy myself much more. If you’re looking for open and unapologetic queer characters, the power of music, and a new and fresh dystopian: check it out. - 3 stars. ‘A Song For a New Day’ comes out September 10, 2019.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Super interesting story and, if you contextualize into today's news and headlines, it very terrifyingly just may not be that far fetched. Which gave this book a very dark edge and an almost sinister undertone. And I don's say that in a bad way at all. I say that in a way that should make everyone want to read it. The author's ease and lightness of writing kept this from becoming too dark and made for a very thought provoking and enjoyable read. Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with Super interesting story and, if you contextualize into today's news and headlines, it very terrifyingly just may not be that far fetched. Which gave this book a very dark edge and an almost sinister undertone. And I don's say that in a bad way at all. I say that in a way that should make everyone want to read it. The author's ease and lightness of writing kept this from becoming too dark and made for a very thought provoking and enjoyable read. Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    This was one of my favorite novels of the year! Before reading A Song for a New Day, I didn't think any writer could adequately put music into words, but Sarah Pinsker pulls it off with aplomb. Her prose captures the feeling of the songs, and that ineffable experience of hearing the right chord, the right lyric, at the right time. Pinsker is a musician as well as an author, and it shows. I am NOT a musician - I can't play any instruments, don't have an "ear," and have found the few rock concerts This was one of my favorite novels of the year! Before reading A Song for a New Day, I didn't think any writer could adequately put music into words, but Sarah Pinsker pulls it off with aplomb. Her prose captures the feeling of the songs, and that ineffable experience of hearing the right chord, the right lyric, at the right time. Pinsker is a musician as well as an author, and it shows. I am NOT a musician - I can't play any instruments, don't have an "ear," and have found the few rock concerts I've attended to be disappointing and just LOUD - but reading A Song for a New Day made me finally understand what other people must experience in rock and roll: the euphoric, almost religious ecstasy of sublimating oneself in sound. A Song for a New Day is also one of the most plausible post-apocalyptic novels I've ever read, because it's not some dystopian hellscape, but rather a world just pushed to the next logical stage of social isolation after our own. I could absolutely imagine public gatherings being banned in the wake of mass shootings (because heavens forbid we ban guns!) and for super bugs to exacerbate everyone's already high-simmering social anxiety. And of course, if there were an apocalyptic terror event / pox plague, corporations would find a way to make money off of it, as they do here.  The story is told in dueling protagonists' POV: Luce, an aging rock star who still remembers life Before, refusing to compromise her independence and artistic integrity for either big corporations or government "congregation" laws, and Rosemary, a sheltered rural 20-something whose only options in life are to work for SuperWally (a thinly veiled Walmart / Amazon hybrid) or StageHalo Live, who sells VR experiences of the live events the government has banned. For Luce, StageHolo's VR "hoodie" technology seems like the ultimate selling-out of her punk rock soul...but for Rosemary, it looks like a golden-ticket out of her stifling small town and near paralyzing agoraphobia.  Both heroines are fully-realized, tenderly rendered characters. Pinsker perfectly captures the loneliness of strong women in Luce, who is always restlessly traveling, escaping and yet never quite able to escape her Orthodox Jewish family who couldn't accept their daughter as queer. Rosemary's POV makes this near future world - where humans hardly touch each other and hardly go outside - palpably real, as she's grown up with this feeling normal. She also gives the reader a believable experience of what it's like to have an anxiety disorder, as well as personifying all the exhilaration and awkwardness of being young.  It's a cliche to say a novel is about the importance of human connection, but A Song for a New Day really IS about the importance of human connection, and both heroines risk much in order to experience it in all its messy glory. While the novel is obviously about music, it's subtly about a lot of other things: generation gaps, class, the commodification of the music industry, and whether a work of art is ultimately for the artist, the audience, or an uneasy balance of both?  While I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I can understand some of its negative reviews about being "slow." The premise of A Song for a New Day is science fiction, but the pace is literary fiction. The plot is not propulsive; it's more of a saunter. But personally I'm fine with that, if I like the characters I'm sauntering with, and I adored both Luce and Rosemary.  The post-apocalyptic elements of A Song for a New Day and its lyrical writing style reminded me a bit of one of my other favorite novels recently, Severance by Ling Ma. But whereas that novel left me in despair (even though it was exquisitely well written despair!) A Song for a New Day made me giddy, energized, hopeful for Luce's and Rosemary's future...maybe even a bit more hopeful for our own. There's an irrepressible optimism as well as rage in A Song for a New Day, which perfectly embodies its punk rock vibe. A Song for New Day will linger in your head for a long time, like a great hook. 

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aleks (bluechairbooklist)

    Hot on the heels of a collection of short works, science fiction author and rockstar Sarah Pinsker dives headfirst into the dystopian future where human connection is at an all-time premium. In the Before, Luce Cannon has just started out on her band’s tour when terrorist attacks necessitate total societal lock-down and a migration to StageHolo, an VR experience with a distinctly Amazon-esque flavor, covering everything from school to menial jobs to delivery to huge entertainment events. Rosemar Hot on the heels of a collection of short works, science fiction author and rockstar Sarah Pinsker dives headfirst into the dystopian future where human connection is at an all-time premium. In the Before, Luce Cannon has just started out on her band’s tour when terrorist attacks necessitate total societal lock-down and a migration to StageHolo, an VR experience with a distinctly Amazon-esque flavor, covering everything from school to menial jobs to delivery to huge entertainment events. Rosemary Laws, having grown up in the After, as the book so simply states it, emerges from her family home, where fear and isolationism reign supreme, into the genuinely chaotic and connected world of the East Coast rock scene, traveling at the behest of her StageHolo benefactors in search of new talent. What follows is a meditation on change and art, corporate structures versus artistic aspirations, and human connection in both digital and “IRL” forms. Part Ready Player One, part Hunger Games, foremost in Pinsker’s narrative is the communal connection of music makers and their audiences. Much of the relationship between Rosemary and Luce centers around the concept of musical community – Luce has retreated to speakeasy basement clubs in Baltimore in an effort to “feel the crowd,” whereas Rosemary’s first visceral experiences of live music come from StageHolo programs. Rosemary, on her own coming of age journey, quickly finds there are many options of individual expression, including that of her gender and sexuality, and that, according to Pinsker, a face-to-face connection is perhaps the only place to discover and explore those options. However, and thankfully, this is not your run-of-the-mill coming out/coming of age story. What romance exists serves to elucidate the stagnated or misunderstood aspects of relationships and expression in this totally digitized age. In poignant contrast, Luce believes whole-heartedly in an analog experience of music and life in general, containing herself to small group interactions until she goes viral somewhat accidentally with her musical message. Luce ultimately confronts her mistrust of corporate powers, opting to “sell out” to reach a huge audience with her activist message in the After. Likewise, Rosemary has come around on her total reliance on corporate systems, choosing to manipulate the machine to be more inclusive and far-reaching as well as more liberal in its message and artistic expression. Their teamwork, devoid of our usual trope of relationship drama, leads to an unveiling of humanity and expression, even under the yoke of a totalitarian system. The structure of the book is based on perspective chapters, and it was here that Pinsker fell somewhat short. Other than their chapter headings, it was impossible to tell which perspective was being presented, either from tone or accent or internal dialogue. This made the narrative feel somewhat homogenous and immature, even as the story propelled itself quite effectively. Likewise, the dystopian world felt slightly derivative, though part of this might have been the choice to keep the source of the terrorist attacks and the activity of government and corporate structures (one and the same to Pinsker’s readers) shrouded in mystery. The result is a sort of tin foil hat tendency towards conspiracy, which underlines the need for artistic freedoms, but gives the story a slightly flat aspect when compared to the more politically complex plots of this genre. It is clear that Pinsker’s love of music and musical community is well-founded and explored. As a musician myself, I related most closely to those descriptions of live performance, or the interactions between artistic vision and capitalism consumption. I found these to be the most vividly drawn, and these scenes take up larger swathes of the book than any chase scene or relationship dialogue. It was a completely engrossing read, despite what felt like a bit of a surface treatment of a very intriguing and disturbingly believable world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A dystopian novel with a unique focus, almost entirely devoted to musical performance in a world where the government actively discourages large gatherings of any sort. Two events conspire to create that world: a series of seemingly random bombings at large events (e.g. sporting events and concerts), and a mysterious disease that is transmitted by physical contact. The narrative follows two protagonists: Luce Cannon, a singer/songwriter whose career was just taking off before the big events (now A dystopian novel with a unique focus, almost entirely devoted to musical performance in a world where the government actively discourages large gatherings of any sort. Two events conspire to create that world: a series of seemingly random bombings at large events (e.g. sporting events and concerts), and a mysterious disease that is transmitted by physical contact. The narrative follows two protagonists: Luce Cannon, a singer/songwriter whose career was just taking off before the big events (now referred to as the Before); and Rosemary Laws, a resident of the After, whose job revolves around virtual contact rather than physical contact. Luce finds ways to continue performing, all of them technically illegal. Rosemary finds herself working for the big holographic concert service that has replaced live concerts. She's a talent scout, which brings her into contact with Luce. After a disastrous first scouting job which results in Luce's illegal performance space being raided by the police and shut down, both she and Luce have to find new ways to follow their passions. As they find a way, Rosemary engineers a performance for Luce that redeems her and offers a way out of the social deadlock they live in. Pinsker is a musician (as am I), which makes the narrative especially well-tuned to the details of composing and performing music. This is rare, and was a delight to read. I quickly relaxed while reading it, secure in the feeling that there would be no shortfalls in the background research. If there is a weakness, it is the fait accompli nature of the societal collapse. It's never explained in any detail: we see the results, but not the causes.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Four-and-a-half stars. This book is about magic. Sure, it says it's categorized as sci-fi or speculative fiction, but this is about powerful, immutable magic and the wizards who wield it. Of course if you've come this far, read the synopsis or even looked at the cover, you know I'm talking about music. And while describing it as magic might be a tired metaphor, it's true. I know because I was Rosemary once. I didn't have to deal with banned public gatherings or a huge monol Four-and-a-half stars. This book is about magic. Sure, it says it's categorized as sci-fi or speculative fiction, but this is about powerful, immutable magic and the wizards who wield it. Of course if you've come this far, read the synopsis or even looked at the cover, you know I'm talking about music. And while describing it as magic might be a tired metaphor, it's true. I know because I was Rosemary once. I didn't have to deal with banned public gatherings or a huge monolithic company wired into every aspect of my life (he says on an Amazon-owned app) but when I left for college in the early 90s, I had only been to one arena concert. Zero intimacy. And then it happened. I saw my first small club show and I had the exact transformative moment Rosemary had. Instant revelation. What's more, Pinsker writes it with such accuracy, such realism, passion and clarity, I know it happened to her, too. I loved every second of A Song for a New Day. It's realistic on a number of fronts, particularly in this current culture of fear Americans live in and that makes it as horrifying as it is hopeful. It honestly feels like we're just around the corner from this truly happening. Both Luce and Rosemary are rich, complex characters: one cynical and single-minded in her need to play, the other a naive farm girl who had the single most important revelation of her life and trying to understand what it all means for her life going forward. I get the strong sense, like the Before and After times Pinsker imagines in the book, she's both Rosemary and Luce, before and after her musical awakening. More than anything else, this book is a call to arms, encouraging us to create, to live past the fear. It's a defiant fist in the air, a Girls to the Front imperative that music cannot and will not die. That it will always find a way through the cracks, into the world at large and into the heart, working its magic (sorry) on each and every one of us -- personally and collectively -- who lets it in.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    Sarah Pinsker sketches an all-too-possible future where any large group is forbidden due to fears of terrorism and violence. Public safety is ensured by 'congregation laws', which prevent any assembly of any size. This kills live attendance of sports, theater...and music. The protagonist is the last person to have played a significantly large concert before it was all shut down, and she strives to continue playing to underground audiences because that's the thing that gives Sarah Pinsker sketches an all-too-possible future where any large group is forbidden due to fears of terrorism and violence. Public safety is ensured by 'congregation laws', which prevent any assembly of any size. This kills live attendance of sports, theater...and music. The protagonist is the last person to have played a significantly large concert before it was all shut down, and she strives to continue playing to underground audiences because that's the thing that gives her joy. Pinsker herself is a touring musician, and the book is full of insider musician knowledge which gives the story real heft. The plot is driven by a talent scout who is recruiting musicians for StageHoloLive (SHL), a method to stream live performances to people wearing 'Hoodies' that act as VR rigs. Nobody gathers to watch any performance or sporting activity anymore – they simply 'attend' it through their Hoodie. The talent scout serves the role of 'ignorant traveler' in a land she doesn't understand because of her sequestered life prior to being hired by SHL. Her character is not so one-sided as we expect, though, as the story develops. Between the POV musician and the development of the POV talent scout, we see this world from two different but intriguing angles. It's a nice narrative method. In this day and age, I fear for the day when we say “remember when we used to gather in large groups to enjoy an activity together”? I hope that day does not come, but this book makes it seem all too possible if we let our fear overcome our shared humanity.

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