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Pet
Cover of Pet
Pet
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
"[A] beautiful, genre-expanding debut. . . . Pet is a nesting doll of creative possibilities." -The New York Times
The highly-anticipated, genre-defying new novel by award-winning author Akwaeke Emezi 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?
Acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi makes their riveting and timely young adult debut with a book that asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.
"Like [Madeleine] L'Engle, Akwaeke Emezi asks questions of good and evil and agency, all wrapped up in the terrifying and glorious spectacle of fantastical theology." -NPR
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
"[A] beautiful, genre-expanding debut. . . . Pet is a nesting doll of creative possibilities." -The New York Times
The highly-anticipated, genre-defying new novel by award-winning author Akwaeke Emezi 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?
Acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi makes their riveting and timely young adult debut with a book that asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.
"Like [Madeleine] L'Engle, Akwaeke Emezi asks questions of good and evil and agency, all wrapped up in the terrifying and glorious spectacle of fantastical theology." -NPR
Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.7
  • Lexile:
    820
  • Interest Level:
    MG+
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    There shouldn't be any monsters left in Lucille.

    The city used to have them, of course—­what city didn't? They used to be everywhere, thick in the air and offices, in the streets and in people's own homes. They used to be the police and teachers and judges and even the mayor; yeah, the mayor used to be a monster. Lucille has a different mayor now. This mayor is an angel; the last couple of mayors have all been angels. Not like a from-­heaven, not-­quite-­real type of angel but a from-­behind-­and-­inside-­and-­in-­front-­of-­the-­revolution, therefore-­very-­real type of angel.

    It was the angels who took apart the prisons and the police; who held councils prosecuting the former officers who'd shot children and murdered people, sentencing them to restitution and rehabilitation. Many people thought it wasn't enough; but the angels were only human, and it's hard to build a new world without making people angry. You try your best, you move with compassion, you think about the big structures. No revolution is perfect. In the meantime, the angels banned firearms, not just because of the school shootings but also because of the kids who shot themselves and their families at home; the civilians who thought they could shoot people who didn't look like them, just because they got mad or scared or whatever, and nothing would happen to them because the old law liked them better than the dead. The angels took the laws and changed them, tore down those horrible statues of rich men who'd owned people and fought to keep owning people. The angels believed and the people agreed that there was a good amount of proper and deserved shame in history and some things were just never going to be things to be proud of.

    Instead, they put up other monuments. Some were statues of the dead, mostly the children whose hashtags had been turned into battle cries during the revolution. Others were giant sculptures with thousands of names carved into them, because too many people had died and if you made statues of everyone, Lucille would be filled with stone figures and there'd be no room for the alive ones. The names were of people who died when the hurricanes hit and the monsters wouldn't evacuate the prisons or send aid, people who died when the monsters sent drones and bombs to their countries (because, as the angels pointed out, you shouldn't use a nation as a basis to choose which deaths you mourn; nations aren't even real), people who died because the monsters took away their health care—­names and names of people and people, countless letters recording that they had been.

    The citizens of Lucille put dozens of white candles at the base of the monuments, hung layers of marigold necklaces around the necks of the statues, and when they walked past, they would often fall silent for a moment and press a palm against the stone, soaking up the heat the sun had left in it, remembering the souls the stone was holding. They'd remember the marches and vigils, the shaky footage that was splashed everywhere of their deaths (a thing that wasn't allowed anymore, that gruesome dissemination of someone's child gasping in their final moments, bubbling air or blood or grief—­the angels respected the dead and their loved ones). The people of Lucille would remember the temples that were bombed, the mosques, the acid attacks, the synagogues. Remembering was important.

    Jam was born after the monsters, born and raised in Lucille, but like everyone else she remembered. It was taught in school: how the monsters had maintained power for such a long time; how the angels had removed them, making...
About the Author-
  • Akwaeke Emezi makes their young adult debut with Pet on the inaugural Make Me a World list. An honoree on the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" list, a long-list nominee for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and a short-list nominee for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, Akwaeke continues to receive accolades for their adult debut, Freshwater. The autobiographical novel also received rave reviews from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and the Los Angeles Times, among others, as well as starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist. Their sophomore adult novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, is forthcoming in 2020 from Riverhead.
    Learn more about Akwaeke at Akwaeke.com or on Twitter at @azemezi.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 17, 2019
    Carnegie Medal–nominee Emezi (Freshwater for adults) makes their young adult debut in this story of a transgender, selectively nonverbal girl named Jam, and the monster that finds its way into their universe. Jam’s hometown, Lucille, is portrayed as a utopia—a world that is post-bigotry and -violence, where “angels” named after those in religious texts have eradicated “monsters.” But after Jam accidently bleeds onto her artist mother’s painting, the image—a figure with ram’s horns, metallic feathers, and metal claws—pulls itself out of the canvas. Pet, as it tells Jam to call it, has come to her realm to hunt a human monster––one that threatens peace in the home of Jam’s best friend, Redemption. Together, Jam, Pet, and Redemption embark on a quest to discover the crime and vanquish the monster. Jam’s language is alternatingly voiced and signed, the latter conveyed in italic text, and Igbo phrases pepper the family’s loving interactions. Emezi’s direct but tacit story of injustice, unconditional acceptance, and the evil perpetuated by humankind forms a compelling, nuanced tale that fans of speculative horror will quickly devour. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jacqueline Ko, Wylie Agency.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from July 1, 2019

    Gr 7 Up-The only world Jam has ever known is that of Lucille, a town where the angels have ostensibly banished the monsters and dismantled the structures that allowed monsters and monstrous deeds to pervade. Lucille is a post-prison, post-school shooting, post-police brutality society. A society where someone like Jam, a selectively mute transgender teen, can live with complete acceptance, support, and love. Still, she can feel the hard truths of the world, can sense them in the air, hear them in words unsaid. When Jam steals into her mother Bitter's painting studio and unleashes Pet, a winged, horned, eyeless creature and monster hunter, from one of the paintings and into their world, life as she's known it begins to dissolve. Jam must confront the harsh realities of her world as she tentatively partners with Pet and ventures forward to avenge a wrong not yet discovered. This is a heart-stirring atmospheric page-turner, a terrific and terrible yet quiet adventure. Emezi spins a tale that defies categorization as strikingly as their characters, forcing readers to deeply rethink assumptions about identity, family structure, and justice. VERDICT A riveting and important read that couldn't be more well timed to our society's struggles with its own monsters.-Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 15, 2019
    Teenager Jam unwittingly animates her mother's painting, summoning a being through a cross-dimensional portal. When Pet, giant and grotesque, bursts into her life one night, Jam learns it has emerged to hunt and needs the help of a human who can go places it cannot. Through their telekinetic connection, Jam learns that though all the monsters were thought to have been purged by the angels, one still roams the house of her best friend, Redemption, and Jam must uncover it. There's a curious vagueness as to the nature of the banished monsters' crimes, and it takes a few chapters to settle into Emezi's (Freshwater, 2018) YA debut, set in an unspecified American town where people are united under the creed: "We are each other's harvest. We are each other's business. We are each other's magnitude and bond," taken from Gwendolyn Brooks' ode to Paul Robeson. However, their lush imagery and prose coupled with nuanced inclusion of African diasporic languages and peoples creates space for individuals to broadly love and live. Jam's parents strongly affirm and celebrate her trans identity, and Redemption's three parents are dedicated and caring, giving Jam a second, albeit more chaotic, home. Still, Emezi's timely and critical point, "monsters don't look like anything," encourages our steady vigilance to recognize and identify them even in the most idyllic of settings. This soaring novel shoots for the stars and explodes the sky with its bold brilliance. (Fantasy. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review "This soaring novel shoots for the stars and explodes the sky with its bold brilliance."
  • School Library Journal, Starred Review "A riveting and important read that couldn't be more well timed to our society's struggles with its own monsters."
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    Random House Children's Books
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