Pet takes place in the near future in a city named Lucille, where the revolutionary movements of today have succeeding in establishing a kinder, stronger society. Jam grew up knowing that the monsters with human faces, once prolific and powerful, have all been slain. The systems that created these monsters and brought them to power have all been dismantled and rebuilt. She knows this to be true- until one night an inhuman beast crawls out of her mother’s painting to hunt just such an adversary.
Despite the serious subject matter, this book offers hope and strength at a time when many of us desperately need both. Akwaeke Emezi weaves humor and love throughout their novel, showing the utmost compassion for their characters and inviting us to do the same. Emezi offers us a glimpse into a utopian society built on collaboration and care, where every member of a community is nurtured so they might flourish together. It’s a beautiful vision, but it’s marred by complacency. People choose to forget the past in favor of this bright new world, and this willful ignorance has consequences. At its core, this book is an unconventional exploration of humanity’s potential balanced against the dangers of believing in something as impossible as perfection.
I honestly loved this book from start to finish. It’s a haunting, strange fable that feels perfect for this strange time in history. It’s comforting and optimistic, exploring difficult topics with a gentleness that doesn’t take diminish their gravity. As surreal and fantastic as it is, Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet feels true in the way that all the best fairy tales do. It’s a story about a young girl, a beast, and a monster- and of course, it’s also much more than that.