Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
In the city of Lucille, all the monsters are gone. “Monsters” as in human monsters, the abusers and manipulators. Jam is a young Black trans girl growing up believing that there are no more monsters. But when her mother’s painting comes to life, a strange creature who calls itself “Pet” says it needs her help in hunting down a monster. Not only that, but the monster lives in her best friend Redemption’s house.
Queer, fantasy, young adult
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?
Review This was a very short but excellent book. It deals with themes of transformative justice. Usually stories show vanquishing the monster as the end of it, but this book is more about changing society to remove the conditions that make monsters in the first place. It’s main character is a child, but this is too mature for little kids. Content warning for implied child sexual abuse, which is a large part of the narrative. It was a strange fantasy story that’s pretty different from others. It’s much more grounded in reality, aside from Pet. The monster is something that is very real, and the focus is on Jam and her relationships with people like Redemption and her parents. There’s great representation, including a polyamorous relationship with a man, woman, and non-binary person. I really loved this, although the themes were disturbing. I am thankful it isn’t graphic but is instead more implied. I have another of this author’s books and I’m excited to read more.