Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?
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?
In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.
Title: Pet | Author: Akwaeke Emezi | Publisher: Make Me a World | Pub. Date: 2019- Sept-10 | Language: English | Triggers: Child harm | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review consideration.
This book made me cringe. Made me want to look away. Made me grit my teeth and feel the sort of sads I had valiantly pushed away for years now. Then it somehow twisted and in the raw furrows it had dug in my heart, it planted hope.
I think maybe hope was present from the very beginning, in the idea that a city had been created where they had chased all the monsters out. (In Pet, “monsters” refers to real-life monsters. Corrupt politicians, rapists, child abusers, and so on.) It was a city that had fought to root out and destroy all the bad, and had won. Now people were accepted for who they were, lived without fear, and were encouraged to accomplish their full potential. Completely unbelievable, of course, but doesn’t it make a small part of you just ache at the possibility?
The main character in Pet, Jam, is a selective mute who happens to be a transgender female. There are many things about Lucille that I would like to see made reality. The simple acceptance of someone feeling that they were born in the wrong body, and the move help them transition into the right body as soon as possible is one of them. Jam’s parents were so supportive of her that it was absolutely amazing to read. It lent a fairy-tale air to the whole story – the way everyone accepted that Jam was Jam. It wasn’t a problem to overcome or a point of contention. It just was what it it was, and that is the type of representation we need. Jam was a reluctant heroine who just happened to be transgender.
The writing was excellent. The pacing was fantastic. The dialogue, the emotions, were all very believable. I loved Jam, and her parents, and I desperately wanted there to be no monsters in Lucille. When that monster was finally revealed though… Lord.
Look, I want to commend Emezi for putting that particular subject right there, dead on. They don’t play, they don’t vague it. When it is finally front and center, it is dealt with right then and there. And even the wrap up still hurt. Because the wrap up should hurt. Because sometimes the one doing the things isn’t the only one doing the things.
But the hope left in the way things were dealt with? The reminder that we can handle monsters, if we trust, believe, listen, and fight against them? That soothes the raw scrapes they leave on your heart and soul as a reader.
Read this. Immediately.
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Lilyn G is the founder of Sci-Fi & Scary, and leader of the Coolthulhu Crew. She does book and film reviews for both genres the site focuses on. Her tastes run towards creature features, hard science fiction, and lots and lots of action. She also has a soft spot for middle-grade fiction that rears its head frequently.
Though no longer involved with Ladies of Horror Fiction due to other responsibilities and a too-full plate, she was one of the original 4 co-founders.
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