By Nino Cipri
QUILTBAG Main Character: Yes
QUILTBAG Minor Character: Yes
POC Main Character: Yes
Bechdel Test: Yes
Summary: When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store (not that one) falls through a rift and into another dimension, it’s up to Ava and Jules to find her, bring her back, and protect the company’s bottom line. Dimension hopping is dangerous and the job itself is mind-numbing, but to make matters worse, Ava and Jules are recent exes. With time running out, can they find their customer and salvage a friendship out of the wreck of a bad breakup?
Let’s Get A Little Deep:
There is absolutely so much to love about this novella. Beyond being a fun, thoughtful work of speculative fiction, it is also filled with interesting characters who come to life on the page. Ava is a sympathetic leading character whose heartbreak and guilt over a bad breakup is fueled in large part by her anxiety. Jules feels like many people I have known. Their frustration with their retail job where they are constantly misgendered is an ache that I have heard lots of trans and non-binary people discuss (cishet culture Be Like That).
Watching these two move across the story is so interesting and delightful. We have two queer people with meaningful and familiar problems who show great growth and strength over the course of a short novella. Finna, with its queer and trans characters, is an anti-capitalist queer story, and it’s so damn good. It requires very little to imagine that, yes, a retail outlet would suspend the interdimensional rescue division to save money. Yes, a retail outlet would send employees to possible death with nothing but a groan about how much paperwork it would be.
How many of us, like Jules, are angry and desperate for a way out of the constant frustration of a job that doesn’t care about you and customers who don’t bother to read a simple name tag to know what pronouns to use? How many of us, like Ava, don’t see a way out and let the pressure of our personal anxiety combined with the hopelessness of work land us in a deep depression?
This is what I mean when I talk about how real these characters are. I am a cis woman who has very short hair. I have gotten misgendered at work. I’ve come to work while suffering from depression and left feeling worse. This is not to say that I hate my particular job (I actually love it, to be honest, and I can’t imagine doing anything else). But Cipri perfectly captures the exhaustion and dangers of capitalism and retail work. It manages to do this with a healthy dose of humor, humanity, and horror.
I generally love longer novels. I enjoy falling into the world and surrounding myself with characters I love. Having said that, Finna, coming in at 144 pages, is perfectly paced and perfectly lengthed. You can read it in one sitting, but I recommend reading it a little slower. You get more out of it and see more incredible detail that Cipri has added. You won’t regret the extra time.
Thanks for going a little deep with me! I post reviews every other Thursday. Did you love Finna? Leave a comment telling me which dimension was your favorite. You can also find me on Twitter @gwasserst! Special thanks to Yasi (@yasaminnb) for editing my posts.