“Pet” almost reads as a verse novel, with its lyrical writing style. Cuing you in with bizarre character names, the story weaves its way through internal and external conflict alike.
One of my favorite things covered in the book was its representation of social anxiety.
It was handled very delicately, never mentioning it directly, but instead describing it. One thing we talk about in our English class is ‘showing, not telling,’ and this book did exactly that.
The conflict between fantastical characters, such as how the monsters are treated is similar to the way marginalized people are considered in the real world . This, to me, was a really crucial point in the storytelling. The reader could connect to any of the fantastical elements, which is sometimes the lagging point for fantasy authors.
However, I am not calling this a fantasy by any means, but it adds a component of magical realism that makes it more enjoyable. Even if you are not a hardcore fantasy fan, it is a snipet of pure amusement.
One example of this is when the author describes her ‘creatures’ on page 73.
“The creature growled low in its throat and changed its body language, small shifts that bled naked menace into the room,” Emezi said.
My main complaint about this book was how short it was. You could easily consider this novella, or a short story Due to this, the book felt extremely rushed throughout numerous pages, not really wrapping anything up by the end of the chapter. As much as I loved the characters, I feel as though I want to get to know them better compared to what we were given.
The ending of this book, to me, is almost left open for interpretation, but not in the sense that something was lacking or wasn’t wrapped up quite enough. The story in its entirety was extremely thought provoking, and the last page was no exception.
Overall, this was both a story full of whimsy and drama, making you feel connected to the characters before you realize it is over. I rate it three point five out five stars in total.
Akwaeke Emezi’s novel, “Pet,” is not your normal utopian novel. Taken literally, the book follows the journey of a young girl named Jam with her mythical, eyeless beast named Pet. Together, they hunt for monsters, thought by her society to have been eradicated by their saviors, the “angels”. Thrusted into a battle between good, evil and ignorance, Jam quickly learns these “angels ” are actually just people, and so are the “monsters.”
Emezi manages to pace the book fairly well, however, much of Jam’s character development relies on the lengthy account of her childhood at the beginning of the book and I would have liked to see more character development in her actions throughout the book.
The books does have a very strong libreral agenda and while Emezi includes many diverse characters, none of them are presented societal challenges because of this. Rather it seemed to be the point, a utopian society willing to accept most everything. There were also many times that I found myself confused as Emezi struggled to create solid characters and character depth.
Despite its rather abstract twist on fantasy, the novel is rather upfront, commenting on society’s ability to hide “monsters” behind the facade that there aren’t any at all.
After I read the book, I was confused by its message. It seemed to me that the author was urging the audience ,who would be teenagers and middle schoolers, to hunt monsters. Emezi also repetitively mentions Jam’s fear of her parents not believing her that there is a monster in her village. This fear was never resolved, and this was a little concerning to me.
While the style of, “Pet” is smooth and imaginative and Emezi’s unique combination of fantasy and adventure offers a fresh read, it’s inability to offer any resolve at all and the book’s vague, although very blatantly obvious message, is to me, problematic.
I would rate it a two point five out of five stars.