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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 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.

242 pages, Paperback

First published May 19, 2020

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About the author

Trace Kerr

1 book6 followers
I'm a bisexual misfit mom of two who writes action packed magical stories that celebrate queer teens (and I'm ALL ABOUT happy endings).
If you love The Raven Cycle, The Fifth Season, Six of Crows, Trail of Lightning or anything by Terry Pratchett--you might like the kind of stories I create.
When I'm not adding to my massive TBR pile, I can sometimes be heard on Spokane Public Radio as the producer & co-host of the lighthearted science and history podcast called Brain Junk.
I live a life of organized chaos in Spokane with a gardening crazed chemist, one kid who's still at home, several chickens and two grumpy cats.
My first YA novel, THE NAMES WE TAKE, came out in 2020.

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5 stars
28 (28%)
4 stars
34 (35%)
3 stars
27 (27%)
2 stars
6 (6%)
1 star
2 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Trace Kerr.
Author 1 book6 followers
November 3, 2022

I wrote TNWT for my youngest child, Beckett. They wanted a queer story with kickass characters who love and fight for each other. LGBTQ characters who felt real and vulnerable (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 breathless gulp.
Profile Image for Amy Barton.
6 reviews
May 25, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Kelly McWilliams.
Author 6 books231 followers
May 15, 2020
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!
Profile Image for Jenn.
816 reviews22 followers
May 12, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Ashlynne.
39 reviews
January 8, 2021
I got this book purely because of the eerily similar circumstances I was experiencing as a young woman living in Spokane during a pandemic. The opening was almost dead on what happened when the current pandemic hit my area, and I had to remind myself that I was reading a fictional novel and not a dramatic reading of current events.

Overall, I liked this book. The concept and the general plot were interesting and kept my attention. The author tackles a lot of social issues, mainly LGBTQ+ experiences and child predation. I really loved that the author brings attention to intersex experiences as I have never read a book where the main character was intersex. I really loved that, and it is the main reason for my 4 stars. I also really liked Iris’s character and how we see her start to mature throughout the book. Her character development was well done.

My main criticism for this book is that it is overall underdeveloped. I think the book could have easily been twice it’s size and still very engaging. There were some huge gaps in time that I think, if filled properly, would have really added to the story. The biggest gap being Pips relationship with Fly. For two girls in love, they barely have any interaction in the book and I didn’t buy their chemistry at all. Their relationship had so much potential but really fell flat for me.

Would I recommend this book to friends? Absolutely! It’s a fun read and the similarities to the current pandemic are often uncanny. I think many YA readers would enjoy it!

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Meagan Cahuasqui.
227 reviews25 followers
December 9, 2022
I totally forgot to add this to my read list when I read it a couple years back. I read an ARC and reviewed it for the Lesbrary (link to full review below).

The story takes place at a good pace and creates an intriguing post-apocalyptic world after a disease has taken the population of Spokane, Washington, and presumably the rest of the United States. The character dynamics are what really make the story captivating though. The main character, Pip, is a bisexual, intersex transgender girl making her way through the world. She starts off on her own but of course, found family gives her people to fight for. Overall, a satisfying read.

Profile Image for Laurel.
220 reviews1 follower
July 13, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Geoff.
942 reviews25 followers
May 19, 2020
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.
67 reviews
June 22, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Gracie.
182 reviews11 followers
February 1, 2020
Thank you Ooligan Press for providing me with this ARC on Edelweiss.


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.
Profile Image for Diana Pinguicha.
Author 6 books178 followers
April 22, 2020
A beautiful story about survival, acceptance, love, fighting for what you believe in, and being who you are.
5 reviews
February 14, 2021
My recommendation for this book is 8/10.

The Names We Take follows seventeen-year-old Pip as she struggles to survive in a post-apocalyptic world after One Mile Cough wipes out most of the population. After saving thirteen-year-old Iris, the pair is soon captured and taken to Thistle Hill, a community of survivors on the outskirts of Spokane. Unfortunately for Pip, things at Thistle Hill are not what they appear to be, and she is forced to hide her true identity in order to protect them both.

Pip is incredibly loyal and courageous, and she has this will to survive that allows her to overcome more than most of us would be able to handle, all the while maintaining her sense of love and compassion for others. Pip's life before One Mile Cough was not easy or fair, and I enjoyed seeing how her resilience shaped her outlook for the better - she didn't let herself become bitter or discompassioned because of her circumstances. It was refreshing to have such a compassionate and relatable character in a book that deals with such heavy themes.

I have to be completely honest and admit that this is not a genre I usually gravitate towards - post-apocalyptic worlds are not my go-to. I found The Names We Take to be really challenging to get through mentally, given that we are currently in the midst of a pandemic that has startling similarities to the one depicted in the book. There were definitely moments when I had to take a break and give myself some mental-distance. With that being said, I highly encourage you to give yourself time to process this book, not just for the pandemic qualities, but also because there are some pretty intense scenes of death, grief, bullying, and rejection.

I will also warn you that, for me, this book was a little bit of a slow starter. I wasn't truly invested in the story until about 75-80 pages in. With most books, I only give it about 45-50 pages to really hook me, but I made an exception for this one because I was legitimately curious to see how the story evolved. I'm so glad to say that exception paid off, because when this book finally picked up, it picked up fast and I couldn't put it down after that.

At its core The Names We Take is a story about discovering yourself and realizing your true identity - who you are, what you value, and what you are capable of in the face of adversity and unbelievable challenges. Anyone who has felt rejected because of who they are, abandoned, or just needs reassurance to keep going, will find that in The Names We Take. I loved the subtle nod at the end of the book about finding your place in the world, even if it is dystopian, bleak, and post-apocalyptic. I think it's a great reminder that we can push through and adapt, even when our obstacles seem insurmountable.

5 reviews
March 28, 2022
Book Review: The Names We Take by Trace Kerr is not only entertaining but can be an
inspiration for young audiences. I have no doubts that younger audiences will see themselves in
Pip, Iris, and Fly. The idea of the One Mile Cough makes this book exciting to read. During a
pandemic, it also makes it sort of relatable. I finished this book quickly because I wanted to
know more about Pip, Iris, and Fly and their struggles as they try to survive. The friendship Pip
has with Iris is a bond that unites them against the world and helps younger audiences learn to
help each other as Pip promised to keep Iris safe. I also liked how The Names We Take covered
issues such as rape and what it looks like. Granville pursuing teenagers at Thistle Hill
highlighted how wrong it is and that people need to learn to look out for each other. I thought the
idea of Thistle Hill showed how trapped people can get when they live in a threatening world.
After reading this book, I couldn’t help but wonder what is next for Pip, Iris, and Fly. Are they
finally safe? Is it going to finally work out? To me, it feels like a happy ending that leaves
readers wondering what will happen. Since this is an unpredictable world, I imagine their fate
being slightly unpredictable but one thing that is clear, Pip’s promise was fulfilled, and it was
nice to see the main characters have a happy ending after dealing with the tiger and Thistle Hill.
The love story between Pip and Fly shows readers that it is okay to be yourself and love who you
want to love. I think it will be an inspiration for the LGBTQ+ community and help young people
find out who they are and who they want to love. Overall, I think the story was a great read and
can help younger audiences find their way through life and prepare to survive on their own too.

Book Rating: I am giving this book a five-star review because I thought it was entertaining and
serves as an inspiration for younger audiences. I finished this book quickly and found myself
wanting to know more about Pip, Iris, and Fly and what their backgrounds are like. We learn
about Pip and how she had struggled in high school with becoming who she wanted to be. In
addition, we also learn her struggles with her parents and how they failed to accept who she is.
The concept of her father wanting her to be a boy and forcing that unto her shows younger
audiences that it is not okay for others to tell you who you should be and to stand up for yourself.
I am giving The Names We Take by Trace Kerr five stars because I think younger audiences will
be able to learn a lot from the story and also be entertained by the fictional world she has created.
March 14, 2021
Set aside some time for this one because you won't want to put it down. The Names We Take reads like a thriller, resonates like a heartbreak, and terrifies like a dystopian-fiction-whirlwind. Kerr's writing appropriately captures the spurred post-apocalyptic world that Pip is thrust into after the One Mile Cough ravages through her little bubble in Spokane, Washington. Teen readers interested in YA dystopian fiction, thrillers, and coming-of-age queer reads will thoroughly enjoy Kerr's perpetuation of social acceptance and the subsequent societal strife that often ensues when fighting for one's freedom of expression and identity. As if emulating this struggle for acceptance and fruition, Spokane's desolate, tyrannical ruins are reinvisioned through Pip's friendships with Iris and Fly.
Now more than ever, The Names We Take is especially applicable. Take, for example, one of the very first tastes of turmoil, which reads: "She cringed at the memory of people hacking their lives away in overfilled hospital rooms." Now, consider our current climate. In the midst of a global pandemic with mass-shutdowns isolating the globe for an entire year, Pip's reality suddenly doesn't seem so overtly dystopian. Where a pandemic-apocalypse once felt removed from reality, at one point, society began gearing up for a future more unforeseen, seclusionist, and desperate than ever previously conceivable. Though I enjoy this resonation, many readers, especially teens, may find this subject matter a bit too personal and "close to home" to stomach.
Even still, there are redeeming storylines that remove the apocalypse outside of its cryptic sphere; Pip's own personal journey toward self-acceptance and queer identity is a triumph, and is a story that is gaining more literary representation within our contemporary market. Not all is lost in the remnants of what once was; Pip's queer-identification story proves that even the most fruitful realities can bloom among wreckage if one finds the courage to foster its growth. Think of Ginsberg's "Sunflower Sutra":
We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives, we’re golden / sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into / mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the / mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.
-Ginsberg, "Sunflower Sutra"
2 reviews
March 7, 2021
I won The Names We Take in an Instagram giveaway done by its press, so I didn’t pick it out for myself and had no idea what it was about. I’m not usually a young adult reader, but after reading this book, I’m happy to say it exceeded my expectations for the genre! I particularly liked that this title presents an lgbtq+ main character with a difficult past, a promise she can’t bear to break, and who is still figuring out how to be her own hero as she’s forced to be one for others. Pip’s journey of self discovery and survival is complex, captivating, and extremely relatable for young independent readers—especially for older siblings.

The Names We Take is a dystopian YA novel about teenage Pip and preteen Iris, two girls that find themselves together in Spokane, Washington after the world’s been overcome with a deadly plague. Pip and Iris struggle for survival as they try to avoid gangs, slave traders, and unexpected predators on their search for safety in the remains of a shattered world. When Pip and Iris meet an older girl that goes by Fly, each of them decides what they’re willing to sacrifice for safety—and who.

“Pip adjusted the dog collar at her throat, feeling the burden of the promise she’d made when she had buckled it around her neck. It’d been an easy pledge to make at the time, but harder to fulfill in the moment: never leave someone behind.” (17)

This title is a must read for any young YA lover! I think The Names We Take would also be a great queer identity addition to any high school reading list. 10/10 recommend for an intense and thrilling, yet sweet and comforting YA read.
5 reviews
March 14, 2021
Left to survive in the aftermath of a pandemic, Pip navigates seemingly endless dangers while trying to protect her new friend Iris and keep her promise to never leave anyone behind.

Very interesting to read this in the middle of a current pandemic, I'll tell you that. While the story takes place in the apocalyptic aftermath of a deadly disease, Trace Kerr tackled many current issues, including LGBTQ+ experiences, child predation, and a pandemic, of course. The main character, Pip, is also intersex, and it was interesting to read about her experiences both growing up and surviving through her parents' lack of understanding, homelessness, and then her stint at Thistle Hill trying to keep her identity a secret while protecting her friends (and countless others) from a predator.

Pip and Iris's friendship was cute and heartwarming, very much a big sister/little sister dynamic that gave the story a little bit of an uplifting feel in the saddest parts.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars mainly because it felt like there was so much potential to develop the story and characters even more. Pip falls in love with a girl named Fly, and I would have loved to see more interaction between the two to get a better feel for their dynamic. What interaction there was was very cute, and I love to see LGBTQ+ and especially bisexual representation in books.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book! It was fast-paced with a lot of excitement that made me not want to put it down, and the characters were enjoyable and relatable in a way that made me want them to succeed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kelly.
49 reviews25 followers
January 23, 2020
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!
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 15 books296 followers
May 20, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Nancy.
45 reviews
August 4, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Debbie.
869 reviews23 followers
February 4, 2021
DNF after 2 chapters. I'm not really the intended audience for this book; they would be much younger than I am and into post-apocalyptic lit. So why did I request this? The synopsis made it sound great - and indeed it may well be for the right reader. I don't usually read dystopian but, now and then, have really enjoyed one (eg Station Eleven). I thought this might be one.

What didn't I like? It felt derivative to me. I've seen only one Mad Max movie, years ago, but wow - semi-automatic weapons, gang warfare - that came to life for me in The Names We Take. See - it came to life. Kerr almost instantly builds atmosphere. But the plague, too, seemed copied: "One Mile Cough had jumped from Asian fruit bats to farmed pigs to people". It just seemed lazy to me to copy Covid-19. And the weapons: the US culture of gun ownership - let's say it's something I'm averse to.

I haven't rated this book because I genuinely think that, for the right reader, it would be a good read. You should be between 15-40 and enjoy survivalist-type settings.

I received a free copy of The Names We Take from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's program. That did not alter my review in any way.
Profile Image for Rachael | booksforbrunch.
204 reviews37 followers
April 6, 2022
On the surface, The Names We Take is a story about surviving a plague. Seventeen-year-old Pip navigates a post-apocalyptic rife with bad guys and little means to food and medicine in Spokane, Washington. Being forced out of the city, Pip and Iris battle enemies while trying to learn who they can trust.

The novel started a little slow for me but picked up once they left Spokane. The author created a world of heartbreak with a well-developed plot and characters. I was pleasantly surprised to meet inter-sex and non-binary characters as well. Between themes of gender and religion, it brought the story to an elevated level past dystopian.

"We judge a person's clothes, their build, how they stand, the sound of their voice - everything. Other people decide how we're seen and how we see ourselves."

I tabbed many pages and quotes I loved, but the one above was my favorite, and I felt, most representative of the material and themes. One of my favorite things to learn was the author's reasoning and dedication to the novel. It's near and dear to their heart, and it will be for you if you read this novel.
August 8, 2022
So, I had high hopes for this novel. First, I want to note that I specifically went into this book with interest in the LGBTQ+ representation. I am trying my best as a reader to diversify my reading collection, and thought this would be a great next read. However, while I typically appreciate a more matter-of-a-fact style prose (less fluff can be a good thing at times), I honestly felt that The Names We Take could have done with more detailed descriptions and time spent on the prose. It felt robotic at times, which is disappointing. I loved Pip’s premise of not leaving anyone behind again. That being said, I felt like there were some parts of their character development that seemed flat (especially their relationship). I will say, there are a few moments where this novel felt uncanny in its correlation to recent-ish events (I’m looking at you, pandemic!), which was nice to read, as it made me feel like we didn’t go through all of that ‘alone’, so to speak. Overall, while this book wasn’t my favorite, I’m still glad I took the time to read it, as it gives me more experience reading novels centered on LGBTQ+ characters, which is what I was aiming for. Solid 3.5/5.
Profile Image for Amanda [darjeeling_and_jade].
361 reviews59 followers
June 8, 2021
I was a bit nervous going into this one because of our current world because there's a cough pandemic in this one, but I was surprisingly pleased that it wasn't the focus. Though most everyone succumbed, The Names We Take instead focuses on Pip and Iris and their fight for survival. It's a great dystopian YA that builds the world slowly as you follow Pip and Iris through it.

I absolutely loved the characterization and acceptance that both Pip and Iris go through throughout this novel. Trace Kerr has a wonderful style of prose that takes the reader through this horrible time that's portrayed in the book in a way that doesn't focus too much on the cruelty of the world.

There's some content that may be triggering to some, including gun violence, death, pandemic / disease, but overall I recommend this one for readers who like dystopian books, strong characters, and a fast paced read.
December 7, 2021
This was a very good read, one I wasn’t expecting to get so engrossed in. It keeps you on your feet and your eyes glued to the pages. The characters, especially Pip, were relatable in a way that was refreshing, revolving around the idea of identity and belonging. ing. I loved the representation as well––it’s nice to have an intersex character where the entire story/character arc doesn’t necessarily revolve around just that fact.

Reading it now, at this point in the pandemic, was definitely fun and interesting, since the word dystopian doesn’t seem too far from us. Being so close to home, I almost had to remind myself that this book wasn’t about COVID, hah!

This book is a good addition to the dystopian fiction genre and very relevant with how it tackles many social problems in the world today. Overall, I recommend this to book to anyone, of all ages, as there is a lot of substance to be found in these characters that anyone can learn from.
79 reviews
April 1, 2022
As one might expect considering the title The Names We Take, this fast-paced, appealing story by Trace Kerr presents characters exploring their identities, including gender and social roles. Notwithstanding the survivalist dystopian landscape (following the One Mile Cough pandemic) and the stereotypical/ obligatory (?) menacing biker gang, the important qualities in this book center on showing the characters choosing their "names," revealing themselves to others as the human beings they wish to be.

For YA readers especially, the harrowing terrors that Pip, Fly, Iris, Clare and others face and overcome and the final safety, respect, friendship and love they find shine a strong light on the value of the journey to freedom.

I received this as a giveaway through Librarything -- a long time ago. I have only posted my review now due to personal issues. But this is an honest review, and I thank Ooligan Press and Librarything for the opportunity to read this book.
Profile Image for Holly.
115 reviews4 followers
November 24, 2020
(I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program)

I really loved this book. I was a bit wary as I began to read it, because it takes place in the wake of a devastating pandemic and that felt a bit close to home for the moment. I'm so glad that I kept reading because it was such a beautiful story of survival and chosen family. The book has dangerous, heart-pounding scenes, sweet and tender scenes, and everything in between. I really appreciated the diversity of characters in the book, but also that the book wasn't just focused on their differences; each character felt fully human and unique. The last third of the book was extra gripping and I ended up staying awake long past my bedtime to finish it because I had to know what would become of Pip, Iris, and Fly.
Profile Image for R.L.S..
Author 4 books30 followers
October 25, 2020
This is a well-written book with a great cast of characters. The main character, Pip, is particularly interesting, full of contradictions, but fully herself. I love the way she keeps commitments and stands up for what she thinks is right.

The story line is a touch more violent than I prefer, but it's easy to see how people would need to develop these types of skills in the type of post-apocalyptic world described here. The world-building is great and makes me kind of wish I'd had the chance to visit Spokane and the areas around it. Maybe a time for travel will come again, and there will be another opportunity...

Note: I received this book in a LibraryThing giveaway in return for an honest review (and I apologize to the author for being so late with it.)
March 12, 2021
I have never really been one for dystopian stories, but this book might have turned me on to them! Kerr's book is a beautiful story of love, loss, and found family, and it's packed with action and heart. I loved Pip's growth through the book as she learns trust again after she had lost everyone she's ever known. Pip is strong, stoic, and doesn't feel she needs anyone else in order to survive in a world that has been decimated by a horrible sickness. Upon meeting Iris, Pip must brave the unknown and watch out for her new-found family as the pair travel to a farm with other refugees to try and make a new start. If you are looking for a heartfelt story with plenty of action tossed in to keep things spicy, you'll enjoy this read!
5 reviews
June 8, 2021
Until I read "The Names We Take", it had been a long time since I had read a dystopian book, which is a genre I used to love. However, I stopped reading them largely because of the lack of LGBTQ+ characters and storylines. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it perfectly filled this gap that I'd been missing. Pip's character is wonderful throughout and touches on gender and sexuality in such a nuanced way that while the story definitely explores queer identity, it does so within the broader lens of identity within found family. The story was very fast paced, and luckily I had the weekend free to read it nearly uninterrupted. Definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for queer dystopian content!
8 reviews
July 20, 2020
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."
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