Day 5 of #PrideLibrary20.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
Trigger warnings: child abuse
This book is phenomenal. I was lost for words when I finished Pet, the writing is honestly mind blowing. I can’t believe how much emotional impact is contained within the 200 pages of this novel, it just doesn’t seem possible to achieve what this book has in such a short space. Pet focuses on Jam, a trans Black girl with selective mutism, she alternates between speaking out loud and using sign language to interact with her friends and family. To begin with I’ll mention how much I loved reading about a character with selective mutism, I’ve read very few novels featuring a selective mute character as well as books featuring sign language, there very few hindrances in Jams world that would force her to voice when she wasn’t comfortable and it was so pleasing to see her thrive in her world no matter how she communicated.
Pet climbs out of one of Jam’s mothers paintings one day with the intent to hunt a monster, but in Lucille, the city where Jam lives, there have been no monsters since the revolution. The words and phrases the author has used within this book to describe people and issues that are rampant in our world right now is just incredible. I have never read anything similar to this novel, it is wholly unique and fascinating. Lucille is run by angels, adults who participated in the revolution to create the safe place that is Lucille. But these adults have become complacent, they have let monsters re-emerge and it is up to Jam and her friend Redemption to find the monster Pet is hunting.
Akwaeke Emezi has thrown traditional names out the window and chosen the most amazing words to represent the characters in this novel. The main character is called Jam, with parents named Bitter and Aloe, and a best friend called Redemption, a few of the other characters are named Whisper, Hibiscus and Glass. We do learn the reasoning behind the name Bitter, but I dearly wish we’d had an insight into the names chosen for the remainder of the characters. I personally think the author might have named the characters with these brilliant words to throw away any pre-conceived gender stereotypes, and now I would love more novels like this.
When you reach the conclusion of this novel and absorb the meaning behind the story of how much damage can be caused when evil is left unchecked you will be speechless. I will never understand how Akwaeke Emezi managed to weave such an enjoyable story with an impactful narrative into 200 pages of text. You might not think this story of monsters and angels is for you, but it could not be a more relevant reading assignment to the world than right now. I recommend adding this to your next book haul, or asking your local library to acquire a copy. I’m now going to hunt down a copy of the author’s debut, Freshwater.
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