Genre | Science Fiction Novella
Page #s | 136
Publishing Date | February 2020
When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but our two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.
Can friendship blossom from the ashes of a relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.
I tore through Finna, an excellent novella about two exes who have to travel through IKEA-esque multiverses to rescue a lost woman. By turns exciting, horrific, and wondrous, this story left me both satisfied and wanting more.
Ava starts the book in an anxiety spiral about seeing Jules, her ex, at work LitenVärld, an unsubtle analogue for IKEA. When someone’s grandmother goes missing, the by-the-rules manager drags out a VCR to show the company’s policy on unexpected tears in the universe. Those with least seniority are sent in with a FINNA, a device to track people lost in the wormhole, which means Ava and Jules have to venture in together.
As the story progresses, we learn why their relationship imploded. Watching them deconstruct what broke them apart while using those same characteristics to survive a strange adventure is incredibly satisfying. The stakes were high, and their increased understanding and appreciation of each other never felt trite. This isn’t about them getting back together. It’s about growing beyond the pain and easy answers.
The two make these self-discoveries while wandering through various alternate IKEAs – I mean, LitenVärlds. One world has carnivorous furniture, another accepts payment in blood at the store restaurant, and another is a submarine market. I thoroughly enjoyed these creative (and sometimes horrific) iterations of one of my favorite box stores, but the end made the hints toward an expanded multiverse that sounds even better.
I’m desperate for more, which is why I’ve already put Defekt on hold at the library. Nino Cipri is an excellent writer, and I can’t wait to see what else they have up their sleeve!
What Makes This Book Queer?
Ava and Jules are in a queer relationship. Jules identifies as trans/non-binary, the story deftly includes their frustration at being misgendered by customers or the horrible boss’s awkward attempts to use any pronouns out of a refusal to try the singular “they.” It is also strongly implied that Jules’ recklessness is fueled by their wonder at having lived to be twenty-five as a trans immigrant of colour. The queerness of it all is interwoven flawlessly, and can I just say: more non-binary dashing heroes, please!
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Finna is the perfect gift for someone who loves a quirky hook (wormholes in IKEA) and appreciates a short story with a emotional punch.
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Find more books nominated for Lambda Literary Awards reviewed here.