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YA Review: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Title: Pet
Author: Akwaeke Emezi 
Year published: 2019
Category: YA fiction
Pages: 208 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (? Fictional town)

SummaryThere are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors 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?

A riveting and timely young adult debut novel that asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial. 

Review: This is a book I feel like I've heard a bunch about but still knew nothing going in, which is a strange feeling. I wasn't sure if it was going to feel like magical realism and totally not work for me or if I would be sucked into this alternate world and love it. It turns out that I was pulled in from the very start.

The opening chapter sucked me in with the concepts of no more "monsters" while not completely defining those monsters. Police? "Bad guys?" Politicians? Racists? Assaulters? Perhaps all of the above and more. And who are the angels that got rid of the monsters. 

Jam and Redemption are characters that I really liked. They are thoughtful and caring young people who trust in the system, the adults, and their families. But, when faced with a monster, they are also willing to question those they are told to trust. That's a scary and difficult position to be in. And Pet? You'll have to read the book to understand it. It's fantastical and scary and amazing.

I also have a copy of Bitter, the prequel/follow up to Pet that I will definitely read. I didn't realize until the end when I read about the author that they are also the author of The Death of Vivek Oji, a novel which I loved.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Popsugar--gender identity (main character is transgender)

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