People live in denial, because it is easier to pretend something doesn’t exist, even when it does, than actually fighting and tackling it. What you don’t know doesn’t kill you. But what of the things you know but pretend not to know?EZIOMA KALU.
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 uncover the truth, and the answer to the question How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
This book is a Young Adult fantasy story of Jam, a fifteen year old trans girl who is selectively mute, and who prefers to communicate with sign language. In a Utopian state of Lucille, the monsters are gone, because the angels have eliminated them and all other sorts of corruption. Prior to the coming of the angels, Lucille was corrupt ridden, there were monsters everywhere who wreaked havoc. But the angels came and eliminated the monsters, so the state is now perfect; void of monsters and corruption and the police and politicians and billionaires. Just a group of black people living together in love and harmony, headed by an Angel for a mayor.
The truth does not change whether it is seen or unseen, it whispered in her mind. A thing which is happening happens whether you look at it or not. And yes, maybe it is easier not to look. Maybe it is easier to say because you do not see it, it is not happening. Maybe you can pull the stone out of the pool and put the moon back together.Akwaeke Emezi, Pet.
The adults in Lucille believe the monsters no longer exist, and they sell this narrative to their children. But Jam is curious about the monsters. She wants to see their pictures, to read about them.
Her parents Aloe and Bitter try to cajole her out of her quest for her knowledge on monsters. Lucille is now safe, a perfect nation. There are no monsters. But she won’t budge. However, it is sad humans only see what they want to see and believe that what they want to believe.
One day Pet, a creature with claws, horns and colors emerges from Bitter’s drawing through the summoning from the drop of blood from Jam’s fingers.
Pet is here to save the day, to hunt the monster. But whom will it hunt? There are no more monsters. But Pet insists a monster lives in Jam’s Best friend, Redemption’s house. And they must hunt it down. But is there really a monster in Lucille?
What does a monster look like? Jam asked.Akwaeke Emezi, Pet.
Her mother focused on her, cupping her cheek in a chalky hand. “Monsters don’t look like anything, doux-doux. That’s the whole point. That’s the whole problem.
There are so many takeaways from this book. One is that the writer imagines a perfect world, one where being black is normal, one where everyone loves and accepts each other irrespective of their choices and sexual orientations. The most important theme in this book is that of love. There is the display of love by everyone to everyone. First, is the love Aloe and Bitter have for their daughter, Jam. She discovers her gender and who she really is at three, when someone compliments her for being a handsome boy, but she screams, ‘Girl!’ ‘Girl!’ ‘Girl!’ Her parents immediately take the necessary steps in transforming her into her gender. They love her unconditionally, and do not resent her for wanting to live in her skin the way she deems fit.
The first step to seeing is seeing that there are things you do not see.Akwaeke Emezi, Pet.
The perfect society Emezi paints in the story, is one that is void of transphobia. Everyone accepts Jam and loves her for who she is and who she chooses to be, and not whom they think she should be. And because of her, everyone around her, including Redemption’s family, learns the sign language, just to be able to communicate with her effectively. There is also the display of love between Jam and Redemption. They are best friends quite alright, and though their friendship is void of any sexual intimacy, they still love themselves so much, regardless. So that when Pet reveals there is a monster in Redemption’s house, Jam does everything within her power to save her best friend.
Good and innocent, they not the same thing; they don’t wear the same face.Akwaeke Emezi, Pet.
But are there really no monsters in Lucille? This goes a long way to explain that no matter how perfect we envision this life to be, evil can never be fully eradicated. But people love living in denial, because it is easier to pretend something does not exist, even if it does, than facing it headstrong and tackling it. The adults are so absorbed in their belief that Lucille is free from monsters, while ignoring the fact that there is a possibility of their existence, somewhere among them. And the emergence of Pet, an ugly creature with claws and horns, teaches us that appearance doesn’t matter when it comes to character. A monster doesn’t necessarily need to be ugly and scary, they’re simply normal humans who live like everyone else. And not every ugly creature is evil.
Also, the problem is, when you think you’ve been without monsters for so long, sometimes you forget what they look like, what they sound like, no matter how much remembering your education urges you to do. It’s not the same when the monsters are gone. You’re only remembering shadows of them, stories that seem to be limited to the pages or screens you read them from. Flat and dull things. So, yes, people forget. But forgetting is dangerous. Forgetting is how the monsters come back.Akwaeke Emezi, Pet.
In our society today, a very gentle and beautiful human who looks like they can’t hurt a fly, can be a serial killer. While a scary looking human can be the kindest and most peaceful on earth.
There is also love and friendship between Pet and Jam, who become allies in their quest to hunt down the monster in Redemption’s home. Pet is an embodiment of love, because if not for love, he won’t bother coming to Lucille to hunt the monster and make it safe again.
Another important takeaway from the book is the freedom of choice. Redemption has three parents, one who is non-binary, but they have a peaceful and an understanding poly-amorous relationship. In an ideal world, people should have the liberty to choose how they want to live their lives. Everyone should have the right to exist in their own bodies as they choose to, without being hated, or judged, or lynched. The book promotes justice, while encouraging, love, friendship and choice. Emezi paints a perfect world. A world where there are no vices like transphobia, police brutality, abuse, racism and homophobia. A world that is free of monsters and full of angels.
Truth does not care if it feels true or not. It is true nonetheless.Akwaeke Emezi, Pet.
The book is a thought-provoking one, which makes you question the status quo, and relate the storyline to the happenings in the real world. I loved the book, though it was complicated and boring for me at some point. The style of writing is not conventional too, and while I appreciate the writer for being creatively unique, I was uninterested most of the time. I gave up on the book so many times, but came back to it regardless. It’s a great queer book and I’m sure you’d enjoy it. I’d rate it as 3.8/5.
Have you read the book? What do you feel about it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on all social media platforms and share with your friends.
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