PET by Akwaeke Emezi
Narrated by: Christopher Myers
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Release Date: March 2020
Genre: Young Adult
Length: 5 hrs 33 mins
Find it: Audible
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.
In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.
Lucille is a utopian city where all known vices, oppressive systems, crime, and the people who perpetrate them (monsters) have been eradicated. Well, not eradicated more incarcerated to be rehabilitated. I’m throwing a lot of words around.
The point is the children of Lucille have been brought up to believe that monsters do not exist in the society. The city is run by Angels and they are above reproach. All is well.
Then there’s Jam, a curious teenager with a question: What did the real Angels look like? Like any child who’s too smart for the curriculum, she takes her question to the library where she learns that Angels could look like Monsters, and if that is true, then Monsters could look like Angels right?
This brings us to Akwaeke Emezi’s masterpiece: The question of how to recognize evil. Human beings love to categorize things. We need to separate groups and things have to fit in a certain way for us to accept it. The bad guy is in a trench coat and has a wicked glint in his eye. The good guy smiles a lot and is ready to save the day at a moment’s notice.
In PET, Akwaeke Emezi challenges us to accept what we know is true but refuse to acknowledge even to the detriment of our society.
Evil looks exactly like us.
Enter Pet, a scary-looking monster hunter who comes to Lucille on the trail of a Monster among the masses. Pet is bound to Jam and she is thus obliged to help him on his hunt. But… there are no Monsters in Lucille… Right?
The revelations and the disruption that follows illustrates how “good people” become enablers of the pain and oppression of others when they refuse to acknowledge or even question that evil/monsters could be someone they love/respect/worship/whatever.
Christopher Myers brought it in the performance of this book. There’s something beautiful about a voice artist being able to create distinct voices for multiple characters in an audiobook. Also, I enjoyed the moments when it felt like you could reach out for each character and speak to them directly.
Cool read. The pacing was a bit slow for me in some places, however it helped to remember that I wasn’t exactly the target audience.
Despite that fact, I would still recommend it for all ages.