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A girl and her best friend confront difficult choices in the face of a home city in denial when they meet a being who exposes the community’s willful disbelief about the existence of monsters. A first young adult novel by the award-winning authors of Freshwater. - (Baker & Taylor)

In a near-future society that claims to have gotten rid of all monstrous people, a creature emerges from a painting seventeen-year-old Jam's mother created, a hunter from another world seeking a real-life monster. - (Baker & Taylor)


"[A] beautiful, genre-expanding debut. . . . Pet is a nesting doll of creative possibilities." -The New York Times

The award-winning, genre-defying novel by the New York Times bestselling author of THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI that explores themes of identity and justice and asks: How do you share the truth when the world around you is in denial?

Pet is here to hunt a monster. Are you brave enough to look?

There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with the lesson that the city is safe for everyone. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature who some might call monstrous but, in reality, is anything but, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has emerged from one of her mother's paintings to hunt a true monster--and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. No one has encountered monsters in years, though, and Jam's quest to protect her best friend and uncover the truth is met with doubt and disbelief.

This award-winning novel from a rising-star author asks: What really makes a monster, and how do you save the world from something if no one will admit it exists?

"[A] beautiful, genre-expanding debut. . . . Pet is a nesting doll of creative possibilities." -The New York Times

"Like [Madeleine] L'Engle, Akwaeke Emezi asks questions of good and evil and agency, all wrapped up in the terrifying and glorious spectacle of fantastical theology." -NPR - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

Akwaeke Emezi makes their young adult debut with Pet on the inaugural Make Me a World list. An honoree on the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" list, a long-list nominee for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and a short-list nominee for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, Akwaeke continues to receive accolades for their adult debut, Freshwater. The autobiographical novel also received rave reviews from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and the Los Angeles Times, among others, as well as starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist. Their sophomore adult novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, is forthcoming in 2020 from Riverhead.

Learn more about Akwaeke at or on Twitter at @azemezi. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Booklist Reviews

The debut title from Christopher Myers' imprint, Make Me a World, tells the story of a girl named Jam who lives in a world without evil—or so she's told. In the town of Lucille, monsters were overcome in a long-past revolution, so Jam is more than a little surprised when Pet, a creature her mom paints, comes to life and declares that he has come to hunt a monster—and he needs her help. Though a YA novel, this will appeal to readers across age ranges. Younger readers will enjoy the fantastical story line itself, while older readers will be able to look more deeply into its themes and pull out the social commentary on the hidden evils of our world that Emezi creatively weaves into the story. Just like Pet gently encourages Jam to see things unseen, to not be afraid, and to not forget, this book encourages its readers to do the same. Because as Jam notes, "Yes, people forget. But forgetting is dangerous. Forgetting is how the monsters come back." Grades 7-10. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews


Akwaeke Emezi, the acclaimed nonbinary author of last year's buzzy adult novel Freshwater, further asserts themself as a unique, bold new voice in fiction with the surreal Pet.

The people of the town of Lucille live a blessed life. The heroes known as angels chased away all the monsters, and kids like Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up without the threats that kept their parents and grandparents in fear.

Jam's mother, Bitter, tells her daughter that monsters and angels aren't like the ones she might have seen in old books. "It's all just people," she says, "doing hard things or doing bad things." But Jam starts to reconsider her mother's words when a frightening creature in her mother's latest painting comes to life. The creature asks Jam to call it Pet and says that it's on a mission—to hunt and kill the monster that, Pet claims, is lurking unseen in Redemption's otherwise loving and happiness-filled home.

Jam is skeptical, not to mention fearful. But as she begins to trust Pet, she starts to question much of what she's been told, and soon she and Redemption must decide for themselves what brand of justice is best suited for the monster that might lurk in their midst. 

By conceptualizing sexual violence, physical abuse, drug use and other social ills as literal monsters, Emezi gives young readers much to think about, from questioning authority and received wisdom to redefining justice. Emezi's characters are diverse in race, physical ability and especially gender. Jam is a transgender girl, and Redemption has three parents, one of whom is nonbinary.

Despite Jam's growing realization that Lucille is far from the utopia she's been told it is, readers might see in Jam's surroundings a version of a world that they, like Jam, might choose to fight for.

Copyright 2019 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

In a haunting work of speculative fiction incorporating African diaspara cultural markers, adolescent Jam (a transgender hearing person who communicates selectively, using both sign language and vocal speech) lives in a utopian town now free of ‘monsters' (oppressors and manifestations of evil). When a creature in one of her mother's paintings comes to life, Jam learns that it's hunting a monster--a monster that lives in Jam's best friend's house. The plot moves steadily as Jam investigates the creature's claims, and the story intensifies to a startling climax. Copyright 2021 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

A haunting and poetic work of speculative fiction-the first for young readers by adult author Emezi. Jam, the adolescent protagonist, is a transgender hearing person who communicates selectively, using both sign language and vocal speech. She was born after a revolution in which human (and some non-human) "angels" rid her now-utopian town of monsters (monster being a catch-all term for oppressors and manifestations of evil). When Jam trips over a painting made by her artist mother, she is cut with blades embedded in the work. Jam's blood hits the canvas, and the grotesque figure her mother created (described as having goat legs, a twisted torso, feathers, horns, and human hands) churns to life. The creature's name is Pet, and it has come to hunt a monster. Worse yet, this monster is said to live in the house of Jam's best friend, Redemption. The plot moves steadily as Jam investigates Pet's claims, and the story intensifies to a startling climax. The lyrical, philosophical text includes cultural markers from the African diaspora (Jam's caregivers lovingly use the French term of endearment "doux-doux"; she listens to soca music while styling her hair in twists). Its theme of deeply examining self-proclaimed bias- or harm-free spaces has contemporary relevance, yet the engrossing, open-ended narrative (with somewhat nebulous world-building) carries a universality separate from any specific place or time. A thoughtful, indelible story about truth, justice, and remembering: "Forgetting is how the monsters come back." Elisa Gall November/December 2019 p.86 Copyright 2019 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Teenager Jam unwittingly animates her mother's painting, summoning a being through a cross-dimensional portal. When Pet, giant and grotesque, bursts into her life one night, Jam learns it has emerged to hunt and needs the help of a human who can go places it cannot. Through their telekinetic connection, Jam learns that though all the monsters were thought to have been purged by the angels, one still roams the house of her best friend, Redemption, and Jam must uncover it. There's a curious vagueness as to the nature of the banished monsters' crimes, and it takes a few chapters to settle into Emezi's (Freshwater, 2018) YA debut, set in an unspecified American town where people are united under the creed: "We are each other's harvest. We are each other's business. We are each other's magnitude and bond," taken from Gwendolyn Brooks' ode to Paul Robeson. However, their lush imagery and prose coupled with nuanced inclusion of African diasporic languages and peoples creates space for individuals to broadly love and live. Jam's parents strongly affirm and celebrate her trans identity, and Re demption's three parents are dedicated and caring, giving Jam a second, albeit more chaotic, home. Still, Emezi's timely and critical point, "monsters don't look like anything," encourages our steady vigilance to recognize and identify them even in the most idyllic of settings. This soaring novel shoots for the stars and explodes the sky with its bold brilliance. (Fantasy. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Carnegie Medal–nominee Emezi (Freshwater for adults) makes their young adult debut in this story of a transgender, selectively nonverbal girl named Jam, and the monster that finds its way into their universe. Jam's hometown, Lucille, is portrayed as a utopia—a world that is post-bigotry and -violence, where "angels" named after those in religious texts have eradicated "monsters." But after Jam accidently bleeds onto her artist mother's painting, the image—a figure with ram's horns, metallic feathers, and metal claws—pulls itself out of the canvas. Pet, as it tells Jam to call it, has come to her realm to hunt a human monster––one that threatens peace in the home of Jam's best friend, Redemption. Together, Jam, Pet, and Redemption embark on a quest to discover the crime and vanquish the monster. Jam's language is alternatingly voiced and signed, the latter conveyed in italic text, and Igbo phrases pepper the family's loving interactions. 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. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jacqueline Ko, Wylie Agency. (Sept.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up—The only world Jam has ever known is that of Lucille, a town where the angels have ostensibly banished the monsters and dismantled the structures that allowed monsters and monstrous deeds to pervade. Lucille is a post-prison, post–school shooting, post–police brutality society. A society where someone like Jam, a selectively mute transgender teen, can live with complete acceptance, support, and love. Still, she can feel the hard truths of the world, can sense them in the air, hear them in words unsaid. When Jam steals into her mother Bitter's painting studio and unleashes Pet, a winged, horned, eyeless creature and monster hunter, from one of the paintings and into their world, life as she's known it begins to dissolve. Jam must confront the harsh realities of her world as she tentatively partners with Pet and ventures forward to avenge a wrong not yet discovered. This is a heart-stirring atmospheric page-turner, a terrific and terrible yet quiet adventure. Emezi spins a tale that defies categorization as strikingly as their characters, forcing readers to deeply rethink assumptions about identity, family structure, and justice. VERDICT A riveting and important read that couldn't be more well timed to our society's struggles with its own monsters.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews

In the city of Lucille, the angels have dedicated their lives to getting rid of all monsters. Jam has never experienced monstrous dangers—that is, until she removes a creature from one of her mother's paintings. "Pet" has come to her world to hunt the monster that lurks in the house of Jam's best friend, Redemption. But Redemption's house is full of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, none of whom look or act like monsters. Together Jam and Redemption must root out the evil that lurks far too close as they navigate the differences between revenge and justice. Reminiscent of works such as Block's Weetzie Bat (Turtleback, 2004/VOYA October 1989) and Ruby's Bone Gap (Balzer + Bray, 2015/ VOYA February 2105), Emezi deftly wields the stylistic elements of magical realism to shine light on the horrors of child abuse. The juxtaposition of realism and fantasy makes the truth of everyone ignoring the horrors right before them even more impactful. The dreamlike, detached quality of the prose is riveting and provides an informal tone that brings the characters to life. As Jam communicates—with her voice, in sign, and mentally with Pet—there is some confusion when italics or punctuation are not used to communicate changes, which can halt and disrupt the story flow. However, this novel is stylistically complex, making it stand out from other problem novels for readers looking for a compelling read.—Rachel Wadham. 4Q 4P J S Copyright 2019 Voya Reviews.

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