Finna by Nino Cipri
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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.
Minimum wage doesn’t even cut it for this.
But retail does what it does, no matter how unethical it might be. As a result, Ava and Jules, recently partners and now exes working in the same labyrinthine furniture store, must rescue an elderly customer from the infinite dangers of the multiverse. It’s not as if working together during a normal shift is impossible after their break-up, right? So impossible Ava even changed her schedule to stay as far from Jules as possible?
At least they get a couple of gift cards for pasta if they survive.
No matter which universe you’re in, people are messy.
Before we get to the heart of Finna, the part that made me both delighted and furious at once, we absolutely have to stop and look at the characters. Both Ava and Jules are complicated people, as evidenced by the gradually revealed circumstances of their split. Ava often finds herself wrapped up in worries, anxiety threading through her everyday life, while Jules directs themself anywhere but towards their troubles, walking their own path even if it frustrates everyone else. Or, even if it does them more harm than good.
And their relationship, which started out as a codependent dating situation, has devolved into a tension that follows them between universes, tension that seems almost too powerful to defeat.
But these are also characters who are under an unusually vicious amount of strain, as well as characters open to change. In some 130-odd pages, they remain themselves even as they change into someone new, someone maybe not better than they were, but certainly someone more aware. Finna is about their journey through entire universes of possibility, and how they answer that call.
Plus, they’re queer and fed up with cishet obliviousness/stubborn resistance and capitalism. Relatable. Relatable to the last drop.
“It’s creepy Scandinavian Narnia.”
Okay, so this is the wild, wacky, fascinating part of Finna: it’s what you get if IKEA were regularly studded with wormholes to other universes. Yes, you read that right. You get Finna if IKEA is a natural conduit for different arms of the multiverse. Infinite possibilities exist, but only if you find the portal between miniature bachelor pad displays.
And, of course, if you can survive whatever you find on the other side.
Sure, the characters in Finna are excellent, but the concept itself is really where I had the most fun. There’s an IKEA staffed entirely by creepy clones! Another one that’s home to an alarming amount of carnivorous plant life! And there’s a horrifying degree of capitalism by and large depicted for life-sucking, cruel economic force that it is!
Really, it’s a shame we only get a little over 100 pages to explore the multiverse with, because there are so many available directions to go, each more bizarre and intriguing than the last. (This is also an excellent time to point out that this is the first of the LitenVerse series, so thankfully, there’s more to come!)
And on top of all that, no matter which universe Ava and Jules explore, you can feel the disgust and exhaustion with capitalism just rolling off of them both. As someone who used to work in retail, I felt their frustration deep in my bones. Maybe not as strongly, since my employers never sent me into the dangerous multiverse with minimal instructions for minimum wage plus a cheap gift card, but certainly pretty strongly all the same.
If you hate capitalism and love universe-hopping, read Finna.
Really, I don’t know what else to tell you without spoiling matters. It’s a novella! I can only say so much!
But with all my heart, I can say that it’s short, it’s snappy, and it’s the first window to what promises to be an exciting multiverse romp. It’s also not break-your-brain complicated, which is nice. Hard sci-fi with extensive world-building can be cool, but sometimes it’s nice to just let it happen without worrying too much about the how and the why. Finna delivers on exactly that. 💙
CW: misgendering mention, transphobia, racism, gore, violence, loss of a loved one