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240879,254 (4.14)7
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.



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"There was a monster here---how was anything supposed to even seem safe again? Especially when none of them had any idea who the monster was. They were probably walking around in plain sight, hidden nicely by smiles and...optimism."

After the Sandy Hook shooting, I had a conversation with a neighbor about how I thought it was important to recognize that, while the shooter's actions were heinous, reprehensible, unforgivable, he's still a human being. We can debate how to deal with him, but by dismissing him as evil or somehow "other," we're ignoring the fact that people who do evil things are among us and of us. By disowning them, we risk disavowing our responsibility to prevent the crimes they might perpetrate.

My neighbor completely dismissed the idea, referring to the shooter as "an abomination."

In the past year or so, it has come out that at the time of this conversation and over the span of more than a decade, this neighbor perpetrated crimes against children, crimes detailed in part in newspaper articles that I cleared from my browser history so my children wouldn't stumble upon them (my spouse and I are talking to them about the situation, we just don't want them to see these articles without us there with them)

I wonder, does this neighbor apply his "abomination" worldview to himself? Or does he view himself as human but flawed? Moreover, how do I view him? I really don't know yet. I'm still working through the fact that this happened right across the street.

I think that part of the reason this novel resonated with me is that, like the characters in this novel, I'm feeling fearful, second-guessing my judgments about people, especially those who have access to my children. Like these characters, I feel an uncomfortable pull towards revenge even as I recognize that vengeance isn't the same as justice and that by mistaking the two, we risk becoming monstrous ourselves. What is the response that won't just remove one monster from the equation but will prevent others from springing up in their place?

Myth-like and a little reminiscent of Pan's Labyrinth, this novel hit me hard with the reality of how monsters and angels and justice and violence and utopia and dystopia are all jumbled together, how complacency hides monsters, and how we can miss seeing something even when we're looking for it. Emezi's characters are rich and flawed and passionate. As I'm reading, I want to know what happens to them, I'm rooting for them and confused with them and hoping they can sift through the many variations of "right."

How do we know we're doing the right thing? she asked.
There is no right thing, Pet replied. There is only the thing that needs to be done." ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
In a future that has supposedly eliminated human monsters, Jam has grown up with few barriers or worries, once her parents understood that she was a girl. But when her mother’s painting comes to life and says that there’s a monster in town, she and her friend Redemption have to confront the question of whether the adults are right after all. Trying a lot of things; it was interesting although it wasn’t exactly for me. ( )
  rivkat | Apr 30, 2020 |
There are no monsters in Lucille, or at least that is what Jam has learned growing up. During the revolution angels removed the monsters in power, and changed Lucille’s laws and structures. Kids learned that angels changed the world and to be like the angels. But “forgetting is how the monsters come back.” Jam inadvertently brings to life her mother’s painting of a feathered goat-like creature, named Pet. Pet tells Jam it is there to hunt a monster, specifically one close to her best friend Redemption. Jam can’t imagine what monster that would be and is reluctant to let Redemption know what she’s learned, wishing the knowledge would just go away. But Pet warns her of the importance of seeing the unseen and Jam knows she must save Redemption. An allegory for our troubled times, reflecting our current monsters (ex. Larry Nasser, mass shooters, terrorists, Trump, white supremacists) and angels (ex. Greta Thurnburg, Emma Gonzales, Malala, #timesup, #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, Aly Raisman). Not for every young reader; I myself found Pet's Yoda-like riddle speech rather wearing and circular. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Mar 5, 2020 |
This could have been a story that was really drawn out and extended to 500+ pages, even multiple volumes, and it wasn’t and I appreciate that. That’s not a criticism of the book, it’s a compliment to the author. Book deals with the complexities we face in identifying the monsters in our society that don’t make themselves clear. Involves a black transgendered teen female, her friend (a boy) and an angel come-to-life from her mom’s painting, hell bent on rooting out an evil infecting their small town. ( )
  rdwhitenack | Dec 24, 2019 |
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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 to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question--How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi makes their riveting and timely young adult debut with a book that asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.
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