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Nino Cipri's Finna is a rambunctious, touching story that blends all the horrors the multiverse has to offer with the everyday awfulness of low-wage work. It explores queer relationships and queer feelings, capitalism and accountability, labor and love, all with a bouncing sense of humor and a commitment to the strange.

When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store -- but not that one -- 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 those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.

To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.

92 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 25, 2020

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Nino Cipri

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,656 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews156k followers
July 24, 2022
This was perfectly okay. Not the fun, page-turning romp about two exes who have to track an elderly woman through the multiverse after IKEA's maze-like interior punches a whole through space-time that I signed up for, but still okay. The plot plods along and the characters could emote more effusively, but the book's biggest strength lies in its razor-sharp critique of capitalism and the subpar treatment of retail workers.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
781 reviews12.4k followers
April 18, 2021
“We’re here to tell you what to do if a wormhole opens up on your shift!”
Honestly, wormholes into parallel universes may be the most rational explanation of the terrifying geography- and logic-defying stupor-inducing maze that is IKEA layout.

And yes, it makes corporate sense to send two low-paid lowest-seniority employees on a mission to rescue a missing elderly customer — a mission through a wormhole, armed with a GPS-type gadget. After all, they have watched the training video, haven’t they?
“Seriously? […] We find a wrinkle in time and you tell the manager?”

I loved the premise and the beginning, but the rest was a bit underwhelming. It almost seems that the story couldn’t quite figure out what it wants to be — a parallel universes adventure story, a relationship drama or a capitalism/consumerism critique. It tried on all those hats, but sadly there was no room in a story this short to adequately develop all of them, and the focus should have been tighter — and, at least in my preference, centered on the weirdness on the other ends of the wormholes.

The worlds were interesting — the plants, the Hive, the ocean steampunk world! — but the glimpses of them were too brief, yielding page time to the relationship struggles of Ava and Jules, who, in addition to being coworkers have also broken up a few days ago and are torn up about that despite the relationship appearing to have been a bit unhealthy. This part would have been better in a longer story, but here it detracted from the tantalizing glimpses of the adventure fantasy too much, and all the plot lines without proper room to develop them ultimately became too thin and too simple — just the bare bones outlines.

In short, a great idea and a middling execution that needed more space. But I may just want to check out the next novella to see where it leads.

3 stars — mostly for the premise.


My Hugo and Nebula Awards Reading Project 2021: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
July 14, 2021
This store comes with a built-in 'creepy Scandinavian Narnia'. Yep, that's a multiverse take on IKEA, the modern corporate slavery, maskhål (aka mareji aka wormholes) and nonbinary ideas.
They even have tutorials on this: 'Wormholes and You'. These tutorials come equipped with 'the most obnoxiously heterosexual blobs' flirting!

The Rooms in here are hilarious:

Edgelord Rockabilly Dorm Room...
The Nihilist Bachelor Cube—... its cousins Coked-out Divorcée, Parental Basement Dweller, and Massage Therapist Who Lived in Their Studio...
Midlife Crisis Mom room...

Other nice stuff:
To go where she wanted, she had to get lost, and it seemed almost instinctual to do that now. She’d been lost for a long time, rudderless. (c)
Heartache felt like a persistent hangover: lethargy, a headache, an unshakeable belief in the cruelty of the world, drifting outside of time. It was hard to keep up the bullshit facade of industriousness when she felt entirely dead inside. (c)
Each room was alien and strange relative to the one before it. Strung together, they resembled an ugly necklace designed by a child, picking out the most garish beads to thread. (c)
She managed to misgender me four times in two minutes,” Jules said. They bent down to pick up the books they’d knocked off the shelf. “Two different pronouns, completely ignored my nametag, eventually settled on calling me ‘the kid.’” (c)
Everything at work is part of a set with everything else, they’d explained. I don’t fit into any of those sets. (c)
“Seriously?... We find a wrinkle in time and you tell the manager?” (c)
Jules always wanted to run away. For a long time they’d talked about the two of them leaving together, moving or traveling. The destination changed, but the wanderlust remained the same. The last few weeks, they had more often talked about disappearing on their own. No destination in particular, just … away. (c)
... their exquisitely painful “sensitivity training.” She’d only gotten through the latter by focusing on her and Jules’s plans to get obliteratingly drunk afterward. (c)
“This video is making me gayer out of spite,” (c)
The bizarre zoetrope of Marks and Danas ended with the two actors in foam dinosaur costumes. (c)
“I’d rather face down a whatever-the-hell than constantly hear I’m a screw-up who can’t do obvious, simple tasks,” ...
“That’s not what I think.” …
“It’s what everyone thinks,”... “Like doing things my own way is the most ridiculous shit they’ve ever heard of, even though it’s the only way I’ve ever been happy. Nobody says it to my face, but everyone here treats me like it’s a miracle I’ve gotten this far on my own. I’m on my last warning before I get fired. Tricia would probably be thrilled if I didn’t come back.” (c)
The weirdest part about walking through the maskhål was that it wasn’t weird at all. (c)
They may have moved in a personal chaos field, but it made them more at ease with the unexpected and strange than anyone. ... Jules was the person you always, always wanted on your zombie apocalypse team. (c)
You ignore inconvenient realities like your girlfriend is fucked up in the head and there are giant spiders in other worlds! Then when the problems get too big to ignore, you run. (c)
She’d lived with fear and anxiety for so long, and fell into fits of dread and despair over the smallest things. Going to work. Making a dentist appointment. Grocery shopping. The light right after the sun went down, when she realized she’d accomplished almost nothing that day. All normal things that normal people could deal with, and she was never equal to the challenge of them. Catastrophe seemed to lurk around every corner, and she felt constantly out of control.
Now Ava was literally at sea, in an alien universe, at the whim of her shitty retail job. She had no control. Her limbs were already drifting toward exhaustion. And she was calm. (c)
I would have happily gone down with my ship, but that would have meant losing a battle, and I was never very good at that. (c)
Getting lost for lack of a better option loses its appeal after a while. (c)
They turned the corner and walked into a nightmare. (c)
“You weren’t planning on coming back, were you?”...
“Didn’t imagine it would be because I was holding back a swarm of violent sales associates, though.” (c)
Was this her world? If it was, why did it feel so strange? (c)
“My boss, Tricia, always said that we were a family. I should have realized she meant that I would have to put up with constant bullshit.” (c)
“You know what I loved about traveling by marejii?”
“It showed me that there were infinite possibilities, at all times. After I made captain of the Anahita, I worried over every decision, doubted whether I was brave or smart or strong enough to pull my mission off and protect my crew. I could remind myself that somewhere in the multiverse of possibility, there existed a world where I was all of those things. Maybe it was the world that I already lived in.”
“Now the way I see it,” she said, “there are infinite universes where Jules died. And infinite universes where they’re alive. Similarly, there are worlds where you are too much of a coward to find out, and worlds where you are brave enough. So. It’s up to you: which of those worlds do we exist in right now?” (c)
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
April 20, 2021
It's a LitenVärld after all!

... or, well, maybe not so small after all. :) Final review for this Nebula-award nominated novella, first posted on FantasyLiterature.com:

If you’ve ever gotten frustrated wandering through the endless maze of rooms that is IKEA, it’s not hard to imagine that there are hidden passages that lead, not to a secret shortcut to an exit, but to another world entirely. Nino Cipri’s novella Finna takes that concept and adds to it a timely set of social concerns, ranging from gender identity to the evils of capitalism generally and low-wage retail jobs in particular.

Ava is a sales associate at LitenVärld (Swedish for “small world”), the fictional equivalent of IKEA, down to the gigantic parking lot and blue-and-yellow box-shaped exterior, not to mention the labyrinthine interior layout. Ava is disgruntled because she’s been called in to work on her day off, when her only desire is to stay home, binge on Netflix and Florence and the Machine, and try to recuperate from her breakup with Jules (black and nonbinary) three days before. Ava’s workday goes from bad — colliding with Jules by the break room — to worse: a customer has lost her grandmother in the store. And she and Jules discover an odd-looking passageway in the Nihilist Bachelor Cube that’s not supposed to be there. (The creative names of the various store rooms, like Pastel Goth Hideaway and Parental Basement Dweller, are one of the humorous delights of Finna.)

Their manager Tricia calls an emergency meeting of all employees, and discloses that this appearance of a “maskhål,” or wormhole, in LitenVärld has happened before, often enough that the company actually has an instructional video and a piece of equipment called a FINNA (Swedish: “find”) to track down missing customers if you feed it one of their personal belongings. What the company doesn’t have any more is a team of employees trained to navigate the wormholes with the FINNA — cost-cutting measures, you know — so Jules volunteers to search for the missing woman and Ava, as the next-most-junior employee, is voluntold to go with them.

The linked worlds they find when they enter the portal are nightmarish echoes of LitenVärld: an orchard of carnivorous plants shaped like furniture, a food court that takes payment in blood, and more. But somewhere in this crazy multiverse Ava and Jules hope to find the missing grandmother … or at least an appropriate replacement for her from another universe.

The maze-like LitenVärld being a prime location for portals to alternative fantasy worlds is an unusual concept for SF/F, if not entirely unique; for example, somewhat similarly, Grady Hendrix also explored the nightmarish aspects of an IKEA-type store in his 2014 horror novel Horrorstör. Cipri carries this concept through into the finer details, like the company having a patented mechanical device as part of its standard equipment to locate missing customers, but having laid off the teams who specialized in these searches; and sending instead the two most junior retail employees working that day. And somehow the company has managed to keep this all secret since at least 1989 (apparently no one outside the company has ever taken a close look at that FINNA patent). Cipri also has a keen eye for the soul-killing details of low-end retail jobs, and their effect on the people stuck in those thankless jobs. Jules in particular is so downtrodden by their job that it’s clear that their volunteering to explore the wormholes is, at least in part, motivated by the hope of finding a better world to live in.

For my taste, Finna spends not enough time exploring these fantasy worlds and too much time focusing on the more mundane dysfunctional relationship of Jules and Ava, who are (understandably) dealing with depression and anxiety. It’s clear that the two of them still love each other and want to be together, but their personal issues have created seemingly insurmountable roadblocks to their finding happiness together. The science fictional aspects of Finna are very soft; Cipri is far more focused on their characters’ relationship and on current social issues.

Finna isn’t shy in the slightest about these social and political messages. It takes rather a sledgehammer approach to that messaging, with repeated anti-capitalistic jabs and main characters who are both diverse and queer. The only noteworthy characters who are signaled as being white are the villains, like LitenVärld manager Tricia, who has a “Midwestern manager-class haircut” with blond highlights (could anything indicate a “Karen” more clearly?), practiced plastic facial expressions, and an utter disregard for the wellbeing of the workers she manages. There’s also Mark and Dana, the obnoxious actors in the LitenVärld training video who later morph into a nightmarish horde of clones in one of the alternative worlds that Ava and Jules stumble into.

The messaging is so heavy-handed that it tends to overwhelm the plot at times. I think it’s fair to say that the appeal of Finna will vary for readers based to a great extent on both how appealing they find these messages and how much they enjoy reading explicitly message-driven fiction. If you think capitalism sucks and IKEA is a house of horrors, and you can get into the drama of queer exes chasing through the multiverse in search of a lost customer while dealing ineptly with the aftermath of their breakup … then I’d recommend Finna to you.

Thanks to Tor for the free review copy!
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,589 followers
March 2, 2020
A very entertaining concept: IKEA(ish) stores are so confusing that they become portals to alternate worlds. When a customer wanders into a wormhole, two lowly retail grunts (who have just broken up, as well) are forced to go to the rescue. Monsters, pirates, adventure, and personal growth result. A delightful, deeply human/e story which is also a joy for anyone who's lost years of their life in blue and yellow retail hell.
Profile Image for Gabi.
698 reviews123 followers
April 11, 2020
Sorry to say, this one didn't work for me.

The premise of portals in the labyrinth of IKEA like department stores sounds terrific, but unfortunately the author didn't go anywhere amazing with it. The story and writing felt rather flat and the idea to combine a cool portal Fantasy idea with an ex-lover biggering team didn't work. Concentration on one of the two would perhaps helped the story, but this way neither could convince me.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,189 followers
February 17, 2020
4.5 Stars
This was such an entertaining science fiction novella that bought it elements of horror with some dangerous furniture. Yet despite the goofy synopsis, this was a surprisingly heartfelt story. I only expected a fun, light-hearted adventure, but I honestly didn’t think I would love the story as much as I did. 

First, the IKEA-like setting was fantastic. The story reminded me a bit of Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix in how it explores the pains of retail employment. I also really appreciated reading about a non-binary character because it is an area of the LGBT+ community that I don’t see represented in most of the fiction that I read. I felt that the conversations surrounding identity and misgendering really added to the depth of the narrative. Overall, I really liked the characters and found myself becoming quite attached. I thought the ending was excellent and I will definitely re-read this one.

I would highly recommend this one to readers looking for a kooky science fiction horror with some excellent diverse characters and emotional story. 

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy from the publisher, Tor.com.
Profile Image for Reads With Rachel.
244 reviews1,821 followers
March 28, 2023
I fucking loved this because I’m a simple bitch who loves anything remotely like doctor who
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,096 reviews404 followers
February 24, 2020
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

This novella answers the question about what would happen if a wormhole opened up in Ikea, I mean, LitenVärld (copyright issues!).  In this short but fun #ownvoices story, a grandmother wanders through the portal to another universe and gets lost.  Two employees have been tasked to find her . . . only they just broke up a week ago and are barely speaking.

The premise is awesome but I wasn't sure at first if I was going like this one.  The humor style took some getting used to and had quite a few pop culture references at the start.  Some of it entertained me like how each LitenVärld furniture room set-up had a nickname like "Nihilist Bachelor Room."  Other parts could be sarcastic but kinda felt painful and mean-spirited.  It was an odd juxtaposition but I got the hang of it.  Having worked in retail (ugh!) I could relate to commentary of working for a soulless corporation with arbitrary rules and conformity issues.

The heart of the story lies with the two main characters, Ava and Jules, and how they are coping with the end of their romantic relationship.  It really does capture the feel of knowing that a partnership has to end but still struggling with conflicting emotions about the transition.  It doesn't help when ye be working at a job ye hate and seemingly have nowhere to go.  It was interesting to read about a very unhealthy relationship between two otherwise nice people.

The major complaint I have about this one is that it was actually too short.  The relationship between Jules and Ava was excellent and obviously the main point of the story but I would have liked more world building.  I loved why the wormholes appeared and how the corporation dealt with them.  The commentary about diversity and relationships was excellent but I couldn't help but want more details about the strange lands.  The handful of other worlds felt lightly sketched in.

No regrets here at all though.  I will certainly be looking for Cirpri's next work.

So lastly . . .

Thank ye Tor.com!
Profile Image for Starlah.
393 reviews1,588 followers
September 7, 2021
In this queer, anti-capitalist, sci-fi satire of corporate retail culture story following two minimum-wage employees who are tasked with tracking down an elderly customer through a portal to another dimension that randomly opened in their Ikea-like store. To make things more difficult, the two employees have recently broken up their romantic relationship and find it difficult being around one another - let alone working together.

This was such a fun, entertaining story that was surprisingly heartwarming. The book was effortlessly diverse, both racially and queer. I really appreciated the conversation around identity and misgendering. I loved the characters and watching them find themselves and work through their self-doubts and insecurities. It's a kooky sci-fi story with awesome, diverse characters and surprising emotion on every page. I thoroughly enjoyed this and am looking forward to more from Cipri.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,267 reviews229 followers
March 6, 2020
In a world very similar to our own (but importantly legally distinct!) a separated couple must embark on a voyage to save that most important of people - a customer.

Finna was a fun read, if a short one. There's always this dilemma with novellas - the most inventive and imaginative never quite seem long enough to properly explore what they offer the reader; that holds true here, but the worlds presented were so interesting and downright cool that I couldn't take a star away. But I would absolutely love a follow-up that has the time to really get into some of these universes!

A very fun read that I've rounded up from 3.5 stars, and hopefully one that will be followed with a sequel.
Profile Image for Thomas Wagner.
142 reviews931 followers
March 16, 2020
(Closer to 3.5 stars.) For a novella, Nino Cipri’s FINNA is as ambitious as they come. I’ve read entire trilogies that don’t aim to cover as much storytelling ground as this little book. Like many other novellas I’ve read from Tor.com, part of me thinks it needed to be longer to give all of its ideas room to breathe. But it is a highly entertaining, often very funny story with some really heartfelt queer rep, and you can’t exactly criticize it for having a lot on its mind.

Ava is an employee of LitenVärld (Swedish for “small world”), a cog in the machine of a sprawling corporate entity patterned only just a wee bit after a well-known Swedish big-box retailer of snap-together home furnishings. Work is stressful enough as it is, and the fact Ava’s ex-partner, non-binary Jules, also works at the same location isn’t helping. One day, a customer approaches Ava and her manager Tricia with an unusual emergency. Her grandmother has simply vanished without a trace somewhere within the vast labyrinth of the store.

Cut to an emergency employee meeting, where we (and apparently the entire non-management staff of the store) learn that LitenVärld is an active hub for wormholes into alternate universes. It would appear the elderly lady got pulled into one of these. But no worries. Management has procedures in place for locating individuals who go missing through a wormhole, involving a handheld homing device called the FINNA (Swedish for “to find”). All that’s needed are two “volunteers.” You see where this is going.

So, I’m gonna say right from the jump that FINNA is an absolute delight to read. But its ambitions do render it uneven. For one thing, there are essentially three stories competing for the reader here. The first is a wicked satire of big-box retail capitalism and how it not only reduces both its workers and its customers to mere drones, but how it finds a way to reduce everything — even individuality — to an aesthetic in a catalog. The second story is a breathless adventure through parallel timelines into other worlds, which has a kind of Peter Jackson sweep despite the overall shortness of the book. And finally, there’s a disarmingly intimate and personal relationship drama which serves as the book’s emotional engine. (continued...)
Profile Image for Mir.
4,867 reviews5,031 followers
November 27, 2020
More like 3.5 stars, because I didn't actually care about the main characters, and because the opening part at IKEA, while quite well done, was very reminiscent of the treatment of same in Horrorstör (yes, the layout is nightmarishly disorienting; yes, retail employment is dehumanizing and torturous; yes, banal everyday existence may be worse than monsters.)

But! Bumped up because I like the small-story-in-a-bigger-worldbuilding approach to fantasy, and because I enjoyed a lot of the details.
Profile Image for Sunny.
698 reviews3,681 followers
April 13, 2022
POV: you and your non-binary ex named Jules work at IKEA and a wormhole opens up and you have to track down a customer’s grandmother in various IKEA multiverses
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,501 reviews442 followers
July 21, 2020
A grandmother goes to fake IKEA and accidentally stumbles into an interdimensional portal. Two employees (and exes), upon learning that this is kinda a thing at this place and that budget cuts have removed the highly trained retrieval teams designed for such things, are voluntold to go retrieve her.

This was absolutely fabulous, incredibly queer and highly anti-capitalist.

Before I go into my review, let me tell you of my first (and only) trip to IKEA.

Instead of sections, the store ushered shoppers through an upsetting and uncoordinated procession of themed showrooms, which bounced from baroque to postmodern design.

It was summer of 2017. We had just moved to the DC area for my wife's job. And well, we were driving around and saw a random IKEA store. I had never been to IKEA, but apparently there was one in the Portland area and my mother kept driving up there and was raving about it.

"Oh I just bought these wonderful XYZs," she'd gush, "You love it here. The meatballs are like Sweden!" [we are Swedish, and also yes, my mother always tells me I love things when I have either a) never experienced it or b) distinctly hate it. this should have been warning #1]

So I was intrigued about what would give my mother a near-orgamismic religious experience and send her into monologues filled with rapturous wonder. Additionally, her aesthetic is Rococo Horrorshow Overload, so there was a distinct dichotomy between her and IKEA minimalism that made my head tilt.

Plus, it had been a near right-of-passage for all of my college friends to drive outside of Boston to go to IKEA and shop for things. Again, I had somehow always missed going, but was like, huh, those Billy Bookcases are pretty phenomenal.

And three of my bookcases had just been smashed to smithereens by the military movers. [always do a DITY]

So I turned to my wife and said, "Let's go in. Just for shits and giggles."

She shrugged and was like, "Ok."



LitenVärld accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses or injuries that wormholes incur, since they fall under the Act of God clauses on our employee insurance.

So we find a parking spot after ten minutes of searching and venture inside, filled with a sense of whatever it's a Saturday morning and we're bored let's see what the big deal is.

We entered through these huge doors, and it was like being funneled into a theme park. High walls, lots of lines, sound bouncing off every hard surface, and people everywhere. I started getting a sinking feeling in my gut. I do not do crowds. I do not do places with lots of varied human and machine noises coming at me from all directions. This is all a no.

The food court was packed, and I snuck a peak. There was greasy pizza and Swedish meatballs that kinda resembled what I grew up on if I squinted a little and pretended I had no sense of smell. My wife was like, "You hungry?" I shook my head, and we ventured inside, past another chokepoint, where bodies squeezed through hundreds of narrows doors to enter the main building.

She'd been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but really, all it seemed to come down to was this: she cared too much, too often, and it left her oversensitized and insufferable.

In the first couple rooms, I cooed over the cute little white lamps and the precious golden decorative coffee table sculptures. I awwed at the ingenuous tables that folded in on themselves in monochromatic splendor.

Then the rooms began to blur together. The crowds grew. People stood in the narrow aisles, doing the same cooing and awwing, frozen in place and blocking our path. They didn't move. They stumbled into our way, blocking our exit so they could stare at the tchotchkes and get their new college student the best bed linens they could buy.

The walls began to close in, the labyrinth tightening around me. The noise from everyone pressed into a space that was too small for the amount of people in it and began to trigger my social anxiety. I turned to my wife. "We have to get out of here."

It was impossible. We were midway through the maze. There was no way back. There were no shortcuts. I was hyperventilating from Scandinavian minimalism and American capitalist greed. A hundred million murder hornets were trapped in my chest and trying to get out. Any minute, I was going to vibrate apart to a chorus of screams and bees.

We grimly pressed onward, pushed and pulled by the swarms of people around us, who were all having such a good time. My crocodile brain kept screaming "Why? Why? Run! Get out of here, you fools! Free yourselves!" while the suppressed mammal portion of my brain was like "Why are you like this? That white giraffe vagina vase is just what you need!"

"I'm so sorry to hear that," Trisha said gravely. She had donned one of her Managerial Faces that Jules had reportedly seen her practicing alone in her office: Calm And In Charge.

Finally, finally we saw what we thought was the light of day. The ceilings rose from oppressively low to towering height. I was in rapture in the sunlight. Then I blinked, and we were now somehow in a huge basement warehouse filled with flat-boxed furniture. The beautiful sun was fluorescent lighting. It was all a lie. We were still trapped.

So we decided (stupidly) to see if we could find what we were coming for. Bookcases. By now, my wife was exhausted from dragging my insufferable, panicking ass around and dealing with loads of crowds, and had taken my second wind with a deep grain of skeptism.

I found what I was looking for, and then we saw The Check-Out Line.

There were rows and rows of stations, and all had at least 43 million people waiting.

My anxiety ramped on high and crocodile brain resumed its prominence. If we got into that line, we would die.

And so we left.

We set the bookcases down, broke through the lines and shook our heads hurriedly at the security people demanding in disbelief if we had bought anything (we hadn't, how absurd) and escaped.

Twenty minutes later after struggling to free ourselves from the parking garage quicksand, we made it onto the road. And were free.


And yeah, that's the review.

Read FINNA if you've ever had a similar IKEA experience. Or...don't. Because #traumaticmemories
Profile Image for Jenna.
249 reviews77 followers
March 17, 2020
I mean, you had me at “wormholes in Ikea,” right??!!

I haven’t been into sci fi since...well, let’s just say it’s been sooooo long that I’d probably need a wormhole myself in order to access those far reaches of my memory. I’m old and jaded enough now that youth itself feels like a foreign planet. But, using a recent spate of dystopian literary fiction novel-reading as a sort of launchpad, I mysteriously and unexpectedly orbited into a modest dystopian-tinged sci fi reading binge at the beginning of this year. Little did I know just how prescient this would shortly seem. In any case, it has been therapeutic; just as the dystopian has become increasingly watercolor-blurred with the photorealistic, so has sci fi come to seem less...well, less “Fi.” And, given all this, it’s reassuring to explore creative, alternative visions of survival under challenging circumstances with humanity and humor.

I think one of the best publishers to do so as of late is Tor.com, and if we are all going to be homebound for some time, then I would urge anyone seeking an efficient pick-me-up to try out some of their affordable e-novellas, of which Finna is one. And good news if this is a new and uncertain frontier for you! - as its premise both might and might not indicate, Finna isn’t a deep dark downer or a distant space-agey trip. It’s really more of a quickish/lightish love story that also...let’s say metaphorically and colorfully, if economically...explores the dark underbelly of retail commerce, being stuck in a unfulfilling rut of work, and finding and following one’s true heart and vocation.

(If you are seeking something equally fun that explores some similar themes but a bit more deeply yet also hilariously, then by all means immediately obtain a copy of QualityLand, by Mark Uwe-Kling, likely my favorite novel of the year. Actually, everyone should go out - or, er, stay in - and read that right now, regardless, especially since many of us are probably a little more dependent on...”TheShop”...than ever these days.)

Another great thing about Tor.com, as other reviews indicate, is that they seamlessly integrate characters with diverse gender and/or sexual identities and preferred pronouns — they are just humans, as they should be, and these human characteristics are NOT central to or even part of the plot, as they so often are — and it’s so very refreshing. This one is no exception.

I owe my personal discovery of Tor.com largely due to the generous coverage it’s received (and deservedly so) from the community of Book Riot contributors, and in particular its excellent podcasts and their frequent “star,” Liberty Hardy...goddess of these dark times. Thanks for converting a sci fi nonbeliever!

Some other Tor.com novels I’ve read recently, and enjoyed: Upright Women Wanted and, of course, the entire and beloved by many Murderbot novella series (#1-4) by Martha Wells, likely my favorite new-to-me discovery of 2020. Given that these, and Murderbot itself, keep getting better and better and more nuanced as we go along, I absolutely can’t wait until the (full-length!) #5 is released in a few months...if the world can just WAIT to go ahead and end AFTER May 5, 2020, when I’m sure I’ll be ripping through that one in a couple hours, that would be great, thanks!
Profile Image for Lisa Wolf.
1,651 reviews200 followers
February 12, 2020
What fun! Finna is a story about wormholes opening up in an Ikea-like superstore, and it's also a story about relationships and heartbreak and healing. And did I mention the WORMHOLES in IKEA? This novella is fast-paced and funny, with quirky, snappy dialogue and weird as hell alternate universes. In a Swedish furniture store! Really a blast -- check it out!

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,155 reviews310 followers
March 3, 2021
I liked this, but not quite as much as most of my friends. I guess I should post a disclaimer that I absolutely LOVE Ikea, and so I don't view it with the same level of automatic disdain as maybe some people do. That said, I do also have several years behind me in the special hell that is big brand retail, and yes, the satirical treatment of that was very on point.

I loved the idea of wormholes opening in the store, and the idea of an alternate universe bordering on the vastly different showroom setups that characterize Ikea layouts worldwide. The notion of an unspoken protocol existing within the corporation for dealing with these wormholes was clever and well done. What I wasn't quite as keen on was the emphasis on the romantic relationship breakdown and rebuilding between the two main characters.

This is a very short novella, and I wanted just a bit more emphasis on the alternate worlds and a bit less on the relationship angst. But that is totally just me, and this really seemed to work well as is for most others.
Profile Image for Tammie.
370 reviews604 followers
December 22, 2021
If the idea of a queer, anti-capitalist, sci-fi satire about corporate retail culture that takes place in a not-IKEA multiverse sounds even remotely interesting to you, I highly recommend this. It's fun, sharp, and extremely well-written. Nino Cipri achieved everything they were trying to do with this novella, and I am really looking forward to reading the sequel when it comes out!
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,721 reviews260 followers
January 20, 2020
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store — but not that one — 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 those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago. To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.

Finna by Nino Cipri is an all new favorite for me. Even though it's still only midway through the month of January I think this will be one of the best reads of 2020. The author's style and sense of humor is right up my alley. If you're looking for an epic and diverse sci-fi novella that you will want to devour in one afternoon, this is a perfect place to start. It was marvelous getting to spend time with Ava and Jules, but Captain Uzmala Nouresh was easily my favorite character. This novella is short and sweet, but it's more than worth your time.

Overall, if you're a fan of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and even Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix, I can't recommend picking up Finna enough. I need to see more of this multiverse and these characters in the future - and they could be doing anything at all just so we get to see them all again. I can't wait to see what Nino Cipri does next.

Profile Image for Melanie  Brinkman.
619 reviews77 followers
May 24, 2020
This is so above their pay grade.

As if working at a big box furniture store wasn't frustrating enough, Ava's day just got worse. When an elderly customer slips through a portal to another dimension, Ava and her fellow minimum wage employee/ex are sent to track the missing grandmother down.

Crossing the multiverse together is no picnic when carnivorous furniture, "chipper" company spokespeople, and resentment in stand the way. Just what else might be waiting for them in the infinite dimensions?

A tale of catastrophe, clones, and customer service a cut above the rest. Everyday humdrum has never been so heartbreakingly horrifying.

Trigger warnings for anxiety, misgendering, depression, blood, and grief.

Sarcastic, sensitive Ava was tired. Her mental health was wreaking havoc, her heart beat between bitter and bleak, and her day job was a drain. I truly felt for the girl as she dealt with an ultimate overwhelmingness that was somehow nothing out of the ordinary. It was interesting to see how her pessimistic nature and caring heart tinged her wacky, world jumping work day with a somber hopefulness.

Just because you work together doesn't mean you'll work together. After bonding over company crumminess, Ava and Jules (they/them), moved quickly from coworkers to codependent. We spent a short amount of time with the two achingly angry, adventurous souls yet you could see just how terrifically toxic they were for each other. Even after the end, so much love and care ran between them. I never expected to become so emotionally invested in the ashes of their aftermath.

Some days our world is too much, and yet the prospect of other worlds? Heck ya! Why you think I started reading books? Stepping into the familiar yet not the same with Ava and Jules was a weirdly wonderful exploration of accountability, labor in love, what is, and what could be. Each of the peculiar places was humorously horrifying.

Between hitting capitalism with satirically honest jabs, Nino Cipri's portal story also tugs on the dimensions of your heart as it examines intricacies of wanting to be together while falling apart. So many well-crafted components satisfyingly slip together in Finna. But with that unexpected ending, I can only hope we've just glimpsed the terrors this story holds within.

Why wait to fall into an alternate universe? Pick up Finna!
Profile Image for Beth.
976 reviews119 followers
June 7, 2021
This is a fun romp through multiple dimensions that starts at an analog of IKEA. The writing style is simple and straightforward, which works for the adventure portions of the story, but made the central characters and their relationship feel flat and distanced from this reader. The jabs at consumerism and capitalism are cute at times (blond consumerist zombies!), too mundane at others. Yep, I get it. Retail sucks.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,076 reviews549 followers
April 13, 2020
Okay, the 'wormhole in IKEA' idea translates into a basic porthole-fiction yarn. But what I loved about Cipri's take on this is how it becomes an extended metaphor for the tender and fraught relationship between Ava and Jules. Review to follow.
Profile Image for Lori.
1,490 reviews55.8k followers
January 26, 2020
When a shopper's grandmother accidentally gets lost inside a wormhole that opens up inside of their furniture store, ex-partners Jules and Ava are sent into the abyss to bring her back.

In Finna, Cipri perfectly captures the soul-sucking turdfest that is corporate retail while also giving us the all the feels - because c'mon, who hasn't been stuck working a shit ass job that you hate but can't afford to leave while also attempting to avoid your ex, who also works there? Right?

It's the perfect balance of sci-fi meets queer love story and, while it's not quite as stunning as his collection Homesick, if you're looking for something light and engaging you'd do well to grab yourself a copy.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews192 followers
June 1, 2020
Queer portal fantasy, but make it Ikea AU!
3.5 stars

As many others, I was first drawn to Finna because of its premise; after all, why not use the liminal space potential of retail stores to literally blur the boundaries between worlds? In that, Finna did deliver, and not without driving home certain points (love how the horror aspect comes from a world in which employees are all basically clones that exist to support the corporation aka "the Mother" because the workplace is your family!, and "shoppers" pay in blood.) After all, there are stories suited to subtlety, and this one never was.

Still, I don't think this will stay with me for long. While I really liked the beginning, I just didn't find the time the two main characters spent in the parallel worlds to be that interesting to read. For obvious reasons, every world is very underdeveloped, and we never get a setting that feels... real in any way after we leave the real world? I don't mean "realistic", I don't particularly care about realism in a weird portal fantasy, I mean that everything felt very cheesy.

As far as the main characters go, I really liked reading about them, and wish I could have seen more of their relationship before the break-up instead of being told about it. I liked the way Finna talked about how mental illnesses can impact relationships, and I liked seeing the now-exes go on an adventure together and grow closer again, but it wasn't enough for me to truly get attached to them.

Something I'm more likely to remember about Finna is the answer it gives to the miserable and wearing conditions (especially for who is visibly marginalized like the LI, Jules, who is Black and non-binary) retail workers are in. It's a hopeful story in the end.
Profile Image for FanFiAddict.
548 reviews143 followers
February 6, 2020
Rating: 8.5/10

Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of Finna in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

Multi-dimensional portal opens up in IKEA-like store that leads to a lionhearted adventure between two (2) low-waged co-workers who just broke things off. Oh, and did I mention they are going after someone’s grandma who just happened upon said portal? What more do you need?

Like a majority of Tor.com’s novellas, Finna can easily be finished in one to two sittings, depending on how well you become ingrained in the source material. Weighing in at approx 144 pages, it isn’t going to beat you over the head with complex prose or exposition. What you will find is a fun and engaging read with heavy emotions, sassy characters, and an ending that opens up so many more possibilities.

Going in and never having heard of Nino Cipri, I definitely had my hesitations, but after getting used to the writing style, use of pronouns, and the direction in which the story was headed, I was all for it. Definitely recommend this for those who enjoy portal fantasy or multi-dimensional sci-fi reads.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,253 reviews181 followers
March 16, 2021
What a weird yet enjoyable novella!

The mix of surrealism, fantasy, horror and LGBT+, all weaved around an IKEA-like shop, should never have worked, but it does. It’s ‘crazy' but I actually enjoyed it :O) Don’t try to find out more - just jump into it, and enjoy the hour of escapism :O)
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,140 followers
June 16, 2021
Two stars in Goodreads = it's okay. Just a case of false expectation since I expected less romance but that hope got dashed since the plot was built based on it and the MC thought a lot about it in her head space. The first half/third was stronger then when it got weirder it did not hold my attention and I had to rewind the audio for I-don't-know-how-many times. By the last chapter, I lost interest completely and caught by surprise when the narrator stopped LOL Eh, maybe the audio plays a role in my rating too, I am a bad listener after all *shrugs*

I did enjoy the fresh new setting from my usual SFF staple, and the portrayal of two exes. Also, the jab on consumerism, retail capitalism, etc was amusing. So, go read this and tell me your opinion!

I am looking forward to read more from the author since their voice is rather unique.
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
651 reviews386 followers
May 5, 2021
This was a fun little novella in which a recently split couple are pulled into a multiversal mess in the heart of an IKEA stand-in. The wacky ideas come hard and fast, and the relationship-in-question material is also pretty endearing. There was a bit too much virtue-signalling for me, but a bit of preaching won't go astray for everyone. I would have been happy reading more from this world (or any of its infinite alternate worlds), but was still satisfied by this one's end. Giving this one a solid 3.5 stars.
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