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YA Review: Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi

Title: Bitter
Author: Akwaeke Emezi
Year published: 2022
Category: YA fiction (fantasy)
Pages: 272 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)Unknown location

SummaryFrom National Book Award finalist Akwaeke Emezi comes a companion novel to the critically acclaimed PET that explores both the importance and cost of social revolution--and how youth lead the way.

After a childhood in foster care, Bitter is thrilled to have been chosen to attend Eucalyptus, a special school where she can focus on her painting surrounded by other creative teens. But outside this haven, the streets are filled with protests against the deep injustices that grip the city of Lucille.
Bitter’s instinct is to stay safe within the walls of Eucalyptus . . . but  her  friends  aren’t  willing  to  settle  for  a  world  that’s  so  far  away from what they deserve. Pulled between old friendships, her artistic passion, and a new romance, Bitter isn’t sure where she  belongs—in  the  studio  or  in  the  streets.  And  if  she  does  find a way to help the revolution while being true to who she is, she must also ask: at what cost? 
This  timely  and  riveting  novel—a  companion  to  the  National  Book Award finalist Pet—explores the power of youth, protest, and art.

Review: This novel is the prequel to Pet, but is intended to be read after Pet (link to my review and the link to their adult novel The Death of Vivek Oji, which was stunning). Since I am a rule follower (mostly), I read them in the order the author intended and am glad I did.

While Pet explored the world of Lucille after the revolution when "everything is good," Bitter centers on Jam's mother and the revolution itself: what does it take to make social change? Do we all have to participate in the same way? We learn about the origins of the angels and monsters, how the revolution was fought, the factions within the protestors, and how various characters got to where they are in Pet. 

The novel is charged with high emotion and social issues as well as friendship and family and what it means to support those you care about. I do want to address that there is a bit of magical realism in this book and in Pet. I am not good with magical realism, but for some reason was totally okay with it here. So, take that for what it's worth.

Have you read either of these novels? What did you think of them?

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Popsugar--Fantasy own voices

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