Possibly my favorite book of 2019, this is a clear-eyed, unsentimental, justice-oriented book about a girl who must make choices about uncovering the darkness underpinning the seemingly enlightened and perfect community. Jam is a relatable, thoughtful, passionate young woman of privilege whose orderly world is turned upside-down when an avenging creature of art and gold and static and horror emerges from her mother's painting. The creature, called Pet, is bent on hunting a monster--one which it claims is in the house of Jam's best friend, Redemption. As Jam investigates, she frequently makes mistakes and struggles with balancing the single-minded justice of Pet with her own fear of tearing apart the community of people she loves and grew up with. Emezi seamlessly integrates diverse perspectives--Jam is a trans girl, and her reluctance to speak aloud has led herr family and many community members to adapt to using sign language a great deal of the time. These facts are present in the story but don't feel like diversity for the sake of diversity. This story of the growth and vigilance and protective compassion Jam must learn will resonate for anyone who can recognize that a just society must never sit back and forget. I loved this powerful little book. — From Gretchen's Middle Reader & Young Adult Picks
Fall 2019 Kids Indie Next List
“Akwaeke Emezi’s debut YA novel is nothing short of breathtaking. Emezi’s prose is poetic and perfect, their world-building is seamlessly engaging, and the images and ideas they evoke in this delicious bit of a book are searing. It’s a critical examination of the society we live in today, of the future we hope to create, and of the constant, enduring need to keep our eyes and hearts open so that we can take care of the most vulnerable among us. I can’t wait to see what Emezi writes next.”
— Abby Rauscher, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • STONEWALL BOOK AWARD WINNER • ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S 100 BEST YA BOOKS OF ALL TIME
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New York Times • Time • Buzzfeed • NPR • New York Public Library • Publishers Weekly • School Library Journal
A genre-defying novel from the award-winning author NPR describes as “like [Madeline] L’Engle…glorious.” A singular book that explores themes of identity and justice. Pet is here to hunt a monster. Are you brave enough to look?
There 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.
"[A] beautiful, genre-expanding debut" –The New York Times
"The word hype was invented to describe books like this." –Refinery29
About the Author
Akwaeke Emezi is an honoree on the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" list, a long-list nominee for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence, and a short-list nominee for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize. They continue to receive accolades for their adult debut, Freshwater, and their sophomore adult novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, which was an instant New York Times bestseller. Born in Umuhai and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Akwaeke holds two degrees, including an MPA from New York University, and lives in liminal spaces.
“A unique science fiction tale.” –Essence
"Brilliant." –The Washington Post
"With great tenderness, Pet questions a society silenced by denial." –Observer
“By far the most striking of the [National Book Award] finalists is PET, a sinister morality tale by Akwaeke Emezi.” –The Wall Street Journal
“A riveting and timely work answering the questions about how you go about the world when the world around you is in denial.” –Out Magazine
"This soaring novel shoots for the stars and explodes the sky with its bold brilliance." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"A compelling, nuanced tale that fans of speculative horror will quickly devour." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"A riveting and important read that couldn’t be more well timed to our society’s struggles with its own monsters." —School Library Journal, Starred Review
“Jam is also notable as a Black, trans protagonist in this important narrative that teens will want to read to gain some perspective on the modern political environment.” —The Bulletin, Starred Review
"Emezi’s characters are diverse in race, physical ability and especially gender.... Readers might see in Jam’s surroundings a version of a world that they, like Jam, might choose to fight for." —BookPage, Starred Review
“A haunting and poetic work of speculative fiction.” —The Horn Book