Summary and book reviews of Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi X
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2019, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2021, 208 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Catherine M Andronik
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About this Book

Book Summary

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. Refinery29 proclaims, "The word hype was invented to describe books like this."

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 ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The moral and ethical questions addressed by this allegorical novel are relevant today, and approached via a story accessible to young people. Beyond Pet's mission to right a moral wrong, there are also strong and positive elements of diversity. Jam herself is transgender, and her transition process is overwhelmingly accepted by family and the community...continued

Full Review (536 words).

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(Reviewed by Catherine M Andronik).

Media Reviews

BookPage (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.

New York Times
Emezi, who is Nigerian, conjures the African oral tradition with sweeping metaphors folded into an almost folkloric rendering of some of humanity’s harshest truths...Pet defies genre, yet it is deeply familiar in its message that we have to believe a better world is possible, and that we create both our monsters and our angels...it is also a love letter to artists and the childlike imagination with which they are in constant dialogue. Pet is a nesting doll of creative possibilities, very much like children themselves, the angels among us.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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.

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.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
This soaring novel shoots for the stars and explodes the sky with its bold brilliance.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Artistic and Religious Representations of Angels in Pet

In Pet, Jam is fascinated by angels. Through her mother, an artist, she is aware that monsters do not necessarily look scary, and angels can be visually mistaken for monsters, especially when they are of the avenging variety. Her friend Ube the librarian helps her find books full of artwork depicting angels. Jam is surprised to see that many of these angels appear anything but benevolent, and some are downright frightening. While author Akwaeke Emezi does not identify the exact paintings Jam studies, the descriptions point to a few likely pieces.

Stained glass window depicting angel from Notre Dame in ChartresOne of the pictures Jam describes features an angel whose wings are covered with unblinking eyes. The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres, France, dates back to the 13th century, and many of its...

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