- Alisa Williams
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi is an amazing book. It was scary and creepy, thought-provoking and sad, and ultimately hopeful. In the city of Lucille, there are no monsters anymore. Or, at least, that’s what Jam and her best friend Redemption have always been taught in school. But when Jam accidentally brings a creature through her mother’s painting, it tells her something different. There are still monsters lurking in Lucille, and it is here to hunt them. As Jam works to uncover the truth about the monster hidden in plain sight, and this mysterious creature who tells her to call it Pet, she must also protect her best friend Redemption and convince her parents that monsters are still here and closer than anyone wants to admit. I loved the concept of this book and thought it was well executed. The fact that bad people don’t look “bad” and that good people often enable bad people by refusing to see or admit that bad things are happening, is a difficult truth to teach, and Emezi does a delicate job of handling this for young adult readers. She’s also a beautiful writer, with a stark and straight-forward style, and it was a joy to read, even as the theme was dark and difficult throughout. I also appreciated that Emezi so expertly and accurately portrayed main character Jam, who is a transgender, autistic teenage girl. Jam is on hormone treatments and prefers to communicate non-verbally, and this added important elements to the story. It was my first time reading a story with a transgender main character, and I hope the success of Pet shows more publishers they should invest in these stories as well.
This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.
Alisa Williams is the managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org. She blogs at alisawilliamswrites.com, tweets at @AWWritesStories, and bookstagrams at @AllyWritesStories.
Book cover image courtesy of Random House Publishing.