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The Names We Take

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Never leave someone behind: it’s a promise easier made than kept, especially when seventeen-year-old Pip takes the headstrong twelve-year-old Iris under her protection in the wake of an earth-shattering plague. After an unspeakable tragedy, the duo must navigate the nearly unrecognizable remains of Spokane, facing roving slave traders, merciless gangs―and worse. Pip and Ir Never leave someone behind: it’s a promise easier made than kept, especially when seventeen-year-old Pip takes the headstrong twelve-year-old Iris under her protection in the wake of an earth-shattering plague. After an unspeakable tragedy, the duo must navigate the nearly unrecognizable remains of Spokane, facing roving slave traders, merciless gangs―and worse. Pip and Iris soon meet Fly, a stubborn and courageous older girl, and as the three grow closer and their circumstances grow more perilous, they must also grapple with their own identities in this cruel new world. Pip’s vow to never leave someone behind may have made survival more difficult for her, but this promise could also be the key to finding meaning in the ashes of what came before.


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Never leave someone behind: it’s a promise easier made than kept, especially when seventeen-year-old Pip takes the headstrong twelve-year-old Iris under her protection in the wake of an earth-shattering plague. After an unspeakable tragedy, the duo must navigate the nearly unrecognizable remains of Spokane, facing roving slave traders, merciless gangs―and worse. Pip and Ir Never leave someone behind: it’s a promise easier made than kept, especially when seventeen-year-old Pip takes the headstrong twelve-year-old Iris under her protection in the wake of an earth-shattering plague. After an unspeakable tragedy, the duo must navigate the nearly unrecognizable remains of Spokane, facing roving slave traders, merciless gangs―and worse. Pip and Iris soon meet Fly, a stubborn and courageous older girl, and as the three grow closer and their circumstances grow more perilous, they must also grapple with their own identities in this cruel new world. Pip’s vow to never leave someone behind may have made survival more difficult for her, but this promise could also be the key to finding meaning in the ashes of what came before.

30 review for The Names We Take

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amy Barton

    Plan to read this on a weekend when you have plenty of time. It’s fast paced and intense-you won’t want to put it down. I found Pip to be such an engaging and relatable character-one I would have been glad to read about in my teens when I didn’t feel like I quite fit anywhere. The story is wonderful, and leaves room for hope and just a bit of magic in a difficult world. I look forward to Trace’s next book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kelly McWilliams

    I had the pleasure of reading this debut early! It’s beautifully written, well plotted, and offers much-needed LGBTQIA+ representation in the dystopian fiction space. I felt deeply invested in Pip, Iris, and Fly. Strong post-pandemic world building and a deep engagement with what it means to claim and defend our own identity—even and especially during chaotic times—makes The Names We Take a highly relevant read! It comes out next week, so don’t forget to preorder!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aoife

    Left all but alone after a plague takes 95% of humanity, Pip has promised to never leave someone who needs help again. But in this strange new world, that promise might be a death sentence. The subject matter was interesting. Plagues and dystopia are very much in my wheelhouse. I was looking forward to reading it. However, it just didn't snag me. Maybe I wasn't in the mood; maybe it's the fact that it mostly tells, not shows. Maybe it's the fact that for me, the most emotional death was an offscre Left all but alone after a plague takes 95% of humanity, Pip has promised to never leave someone who needs help again. But in this strange new world, that promise might be a death sentence. The subject matter was interesting. Plagues and dystopia are very much in my wheelhouse. I was looking forward to reading it. However, it just didn't snag me. Maybe I wasn't in the mood; maybe it's the fact that it mostly tells, not shows. Maybe it's the fact that for me, the most emotional death was an offscreen dog. The timeline is a little confusing to me as well - how did Pip know her mother was in the hospital? How long was she there with her? How long since the end of the plague? - but not enough to really throw me out of the story. I did like the representation. This is only the second book I remember reading with an intersex main character, and the other was very much about being intersex. In this one, although being intersex is part of her character and causes a few difficulties, it's not the main thing; there's plenty of other things going on at the same time. I absolutely think that this book will be enjoyed by plenty of people. If I come back to it another time, I might enjoy it better. Sadly, for me right now, it was only ok.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    In the aftermath of a pandemic, Pip finds herself relying on the kindness of strangers for survival. When she finds Iris who has no place to go, Pip's promise to "not leave anyone behind" is challenged and strengthened. Together they begin to form a bond built on respect and love. Pip and Iris contiually face challenges which they meet with resilance and courage. I liked how "The Names We Take" was a testament to one's strengths and standing up for what was right even at the cost of danger. If y In the aftermath of a pandemic, Pip finds herself relying on the kindness of strangers for survival. When she finds Iris who has no place to go, Pip's promise to "not leave anyone behind" is challenged and strengthened. Together they begin to form a bond built on respect and love. Pip and Iris contiually face challenges which they meet with resilance and courage. I liked how "The Names We Take" was a testament to one's strengths and standing up for what was right even at the cost of danger. If you like fast paced drama set in an apocaylptic background I recommend this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    My Recommendation: It doesn't matter your age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other box you fit (or don't fit) into, this is well worth the read. It's beautifully written and approachable, and as harrowing as some parts are the ending leaves you with a smile and a hopefully feeling which is all you can really ask for in a great book. My Response: By no actual planning on my part I'm posting this on the release date of The Names We Take, which never happens. To be completely honest, the publis My Recommendation: It doesn't matter your age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other box you fit (or don't fit) into, this is well worth the read. It's beautifully written and approachable, and as harrowing as some parts are the ending leaves you with a smile and a hopefully feeling which is all you can really ask for in a great book. My Response: By no actual planning on my part I'm posting this on the release date of The Names We Take, which never happens. To be completely honest, the publisher sent this to me months ago and I just now got around to reading it, but hey things work out for a reason.* I liked the idea of the publisher, Ooligan Press, which is a student run press at Portland State University that concentrates on Pacific Northwest Writers and because the blurb was interesting and they'd clearly spent some time perusing my blog I accepted the galley. Continue reading on my book blog at geoffwhaley.com. *I received a copy of The Names We Take from the publisher via Edelweiss in return for my honest opinion. No goods or money were exchanged.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Trace Kerr

    Had middle school flashbacks of grading my own papers while clicking 5 stars! Back in the day when the teacher asked what grade you should get, I'd always say an A- just to hedge my bets. ;) I wrote TNWT for my youngest child, Dane. They wanted a queer story with kickass female characters who love and fight for each other and oh yeah, make it gritty, fast paced, and raw. I hope you fall so hard for Pip and Iris and Fly that you push on into the night, reading TNWT all in one gulp.

  7. 5 out of 5

    kritika

    (recieved this book from librarything's early reviewer program) this was honestly one of the best books that i've gotten from an advance readers program. it is fast paced, but i could not put the book down once i started it. i was stunned by the lgbtqia+ rep in this book, and their struggles are heartbreakingly expressed. the emotional connections between pip and iris really warmed my heart, which sets this dystopian novel apart from others. the character development was great, and it made the b (recieved this book from librarything's early reviewer program) this was honestly one of the best books that i've gotten from an advance readers program. it is fast paced, but i could not put the book down once i started it. i was stunned by the lgbtqia+ rep in this book, and their struggles are heartbreakingly expressed. the emotional connections between pip and iris really warmed my heart, which sets this dystopian novel apart from others. the character development was great, and it made the book so much better. i would definitely recommend this book for people who don't feel like they fit in, this book will make you see that there's a place for everyone to feel comfortable and accepted.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angela Sorenson

    This book was so phenomenal it reminded me a little bit of the hunger games but it was a bit different. I love the way the characters all interacted with each other to get to their ultimate goal of safety and kindness from an adult. Their is a lot of loss in the story and the book is intense to where you are on the edge of your seat until the very end. The relationships the characters form without having grown up with each other is very neat. I cannot wait to read more by this author.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gracie (greyreadsbooks)

    Thank you Ooligan Press for providing me with this ARC on Edelweiss. 2.75☆ I truly believe this book had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it didnt live up to that. The writing was not great in a way where it tried to be sophisticated but it was actually simple and told everything that was happening very directly. The characters were interesting I guess but they did not seem like really people. You wouldn't meet anyone like them in real life except for maybe the child, Iris. I love LGBTQ+ repr Thank you Ooligan Press for providing me with this ARC on Edelweiss. 2.75☆ I truly believe this book had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it didnt live up to that. The writing was not great in a way where it tried to be sophisticated but it was actually simple and told everything that was happening very directly. The characters were interesting I guess but they did not seem like really people. You wouldn't meet anyone like them in real life except for maybe the child, Iris. I love LGBTQ+ representation, but it didnt feel authentic when the main character mentioned being intersex ever 2 paragraphs in this book. I was invested in the plot, but it felt cheesy and unrealistic in a social/character way, even for a sci-fi/dystopian.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diana Pinguicha

    A beautiful story about survival, acceptance, love, fighting for what you believe in, and being who you are.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Austine (NovelKnight)

    Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I've reached the point in my reading career where I can generally tell when a book isn't for me based on the opening pages. Either the story's voice or the story itself will draw me in... or they won't. With The Names We Take, I knew I wouldn't click with this book from the start. Much of it comes down to execution. I'm pick Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I've reached the point in my reading career where I can generally tell when a book isn't for me based on the opening pages. Either the story's voice or the story itself will draw me in... or they won't. With The Names We Take, I knew I wouldn't click with this book from the start. Much of it comes down to execution. I'm pickier about dystopians since the last rush of them in the early 2010's, which is just the struggle of reading a lot in the same genre. For me, The Names We Take wasn't following through on its potential. The story just lacked that extra something. I didn't connect with the writing which read more as telling rather than showing — and there's nothing wrong with telling in moderation, in this case there was too much and I was distanced as a reader.  I'm pretty sure this contributed a lot to where my focus went. I had more questions about the world and wanted less of the characters. The threat Pip is under never felt solid enough to give me the tension I was looking for, and eventually I gave up asking questions I wasn't getting answers to. I'd like to say that the one great aspect of The Names We Take is the inclusion of an intersex character but I'm not in a position to speak to how this representation is handled. I felt like the diversity was built into the story as much as the plot which was great, but I would look to those better able to speak to how it's presented before recommending it for that alone. And that's all I really have to say on this one. The portion I read didn't leave much of an impression and I moved on from it pretty quickly. I considered whether the current global situation had an impact on my reading experience but I don't feel compelled to return to this book again so I'm going to say it wasn't a factor. I think there are readers out there who will enjoy this character-driven story against a post-apocalyptic backdrop. Unfortunately I wasn't one of them and DNFed The Names We Take at the 68% mark.  For More Bookish Content: Blog || Twitter || Facebook || Bloglovin'

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Received an arc from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This book just wasn’t for me. I liked the plot, but it was kind of flat. What happens after the disease? Do some people still get sick? There was really no threat in this book and that was something I missed. I just don’t understand why the people would kill each other if there was no real danger. In the middle of the book it finally started to peak my interest. Having a creepy farm where people live normal lives, but with some mys Received an arc from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This book just wasn’t for me. I liked the plot, but it was kind of flat. What happens after the disease? Do some people still get sick? There was really no threat in this book and that was something I missed. I just don’t understand why the people would kill each other if there was no real danger. In the middle of the book it finally started to peak my interest. Having a creepy farm where people live normal lives, but with some mysterious figures. I thought that it would get real shady here, but the outcome was different. There was only one threat and while it was interesting, I feel like it could’ve done better. I just don’t really understand where this book was going. Is Pip and the rest of the gang safe? Will the disease ever stop? Was Spokane the only city hit? (Cause how Pip talked it sure seemed like it). The reason why I gave this book a second star is for the representation. A intersex, bisexual character is not something you see everyday and especially not as the main character. We also saw a lesbian and Asian girl. I definitely feel like this was one of the better parts of the book. Especially when Pip talked about her youth and struggles. If you like apocalyptic, end-of-the-world kind of books then this would be for you!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to Ooligan Press for providing a digitial ARC of The Names We Take via edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. I've been pushing The Names We Take down my reading plan because I've been so excited to read this book and wanted to use it as a literary pick-me-up but it just didn't do it for me. For a book with a description about a post apocalyptic world very little happened. That in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. I love character driven, deep stories and using such a world can be Thanks to Ooligan Press for providing a digitial ARC of The Names We Take via edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. I've been pushing The Names We Take down my reading plan because I've been so excited to read this book and wanted to use it as a literary pick-me-up but it just didn't do it for me. For a book with a description about a post apocalyptic world very little happened. That in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. I love character driven, deep stories and using such a world can be a really good backdrop to showcase unique characters, struggles, and metaphors but the only thing that felt 'unique' about The Names We Take was its intersex protagonist and even that wasn't enough to get me into the story. I also really wasn't a fan of Pip's intersex nature being revealed as a plot-twist, especially because I'm sure most readers went into this already knowing about it so ending a chapter with a dramatic allusion to Pip not being legally given a female name and pronouns at birth just felt really odd and gimmick-y. The author clearly really cared about providing accurate portrayals of underrepresented people in YA realms, but ultimately it wasn't enough for the book to hold up without it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I received a free copy of this book as part of librarything's early reviewer program. The Names we Take is not the type of book I usually read at all. For more than half of this novel I just felt so stressed out constantly waiting for something worse to happen to Pip, and it just kept happening. It's a goddamn miracle she doesn't die at multiple points throughout the book. I cannot find it in me to recommend to this to any trans readers because of how distressing it was to constantly be worried a I received a free copy of this book as part of librarything's early reviewer program. The Names we Take is not the type of book I usually read at all. For more than half of this novel I just felt so stressed out constantly waiting for something worse to happen to Pip, and it just kept happening. It's a goddamn miracle she doesn't die at multiple points throughout the book. I cannot find it in me to recommend to this to any trans readers because of how distressing it was to constantly be worried about Pip's safety for me, a cis person. I know that many, maybe most, trans people would be fine reading this but I can also see how it can be traumatic for others. That being said, this story does have a happy ending which made up for the torment for me, but again I have no personal history so it might not be worth it for others. I'm not discouraging anyone from reading this, this is just a warning of how anxiety inducing this book can be. Other than that, the characters all felt very real and were always interesting, the plot is unexpected and the writing is sometimes unclear but overall enjoyable. Not every thread gets a resolution but I like that, feels more like a peak into another world than simply a story in a book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hilpol

    I really enjoyed reading this beautifully crafted story about a young lady who is pushed to her limits and beyond to fight for her and her friends' survival. The main character, Pip, has faced so much loss in her life - some of it due to a pandemic that has swept through and killed the majority of the population, and some of it due to prior events that she had no control over. This is a story of her overcoming the seemingly insurmountable barriers that are in her way and finding herself free to I really enjoyed reading this beautifully crafted story about a young lady who is pushed to her limits and beyond to fight for her and her friends' survival. The main character, Pip, has faced so much loss in her life - some of it due to a pandemic that has swept through and killed the majority of the population, and some of it due to prior events that she had no control over. This is a story of her overcoming the seemingly insurmountable barriers that are in her way and finding herself free to be who she truly is. There's a beautiful passage about the names we are given and how you can "take what you want and make something new. Something...you."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Henning

    Pip is the kind of friend you hope to have - someone who won’t give up on you. Since this reviewer is living in a time of a pandemic (2020), the premise of the book [set in the aftermath of a plague that wipes out whole populations and leaves the rest in competition for what resources are left] seems sadly more possible than ever. Set in my fair city, Spokane, WA, this YA book promotes lessons for us all about staying true to your own identity (living an authentic life even in times of struggle) Pip is the kind of friend you hope to have - someone who won’t give up on you. Since this reviewer is living in a time of a pandemic (2020), the premise of the book [set in the aftermath of a plague that wipes out whole populations and leaves the rest in competition for what resources are left] seems sadly more possible than ever. Set in my fair city, Spokane, WA, this YA book promotes lessons for us all about staying true to your own identity (living an authentic life even in times of struggle), the importance of friendship, and the value of our “chosen-family” in a time of survival.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I read this book in 2020 and it's setting in a time shortly after a pandemic wipes out most of the population seemed incredibly apt. Pip is doing her best to stay alive in a Spokane that has become a ghost town except for isolated survivors. Roving gangs move through the city, looking for anything that has not already been looted and killing or abducting other survivors. Pip happens upon Iris on a scouting trip gone awry and ends up taking her under her wing. The book moves fairly fast. I found I read this book in 2020 and it's setting in a time shortly after a pandemic wipes out most of the population seemed incredibly apt. Pip is doing her best to stay alive in a Spokane that has become a ghost town except for isolated survivors. Roving gangs move through the city, looking for anything that has not already been looted and killing or abducting other survivors. Pip happens upon Iris on a scouting trip gone awry and ends up taking her under her wing. The book moves fairly fast. I found myself really invested in the characters well-being and wanting them to succeed. Overall, an interesting story with a good bit of suspense. Some LGBTQIA+ characters. (Review based on complimentary Advance Reader copy received as a giveaway through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program .)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

    Unrelentingly fierce. Kerr’s novel is a gut punch in all the best ways. I ached for Pip, a girl desperate to live as herself in a ravaged, unforgiving city. Her quest for safety and belonging may be set in a post-apocalyptic world, but it’s 100% relatable. Forced to choose between identity and survival, love and friendship, Pip—like all of us—must decide when to fight for herself and when to stand up for someone else. Devastating and hopeful, Pip’s urgency pulses off the page.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  22. 5 out of 5

    RodSteiner

  23. 5 out of 5

    Demetra

  24. 4 out of 5

    Z

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cristen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hazel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cora

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

  30. 5 out of 5

    AntiCharles008

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