Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Felix Yz

Image result for felix yzFelix Yz
Lisa Bunker
Viking, June, 2017 286 pages
Grades 5-8
Science Fiction

When Felix was three years old he was at work with his father, a scientist, when an experiment went wrong, blasting nuclear energy. Dad dies in the blast and Feliz is fused with an alien being from the fourth dimension. Fast forward ten years. Felix is now thirteen and has been sharing his body with this enmity named Zyx. Zyx turns Felix into a slightly spazzy individual, who is not fully in control of his actions and speech. Moreover, Zyx proves to be great at chess, calling attention to Felix and bringing him into the public eye. Although Zyx loves chess, Felix discovers his own passion, for writing, and enters a contest, tuning into his own best abilities. Meanwhile, Felix is struggling with a bully, his first crush, and an impending operation meant to separate him from Zyx before irreversible damage is done. The good news is that Feliz's family, though non-traditional and quirky, are very loving and supportive. He lives with his mother, transgender grandparent, and musical prodigy sister. When the date is steadily approaching and Feliz overhears a conversation that he may not survive the ordeal, he decides to runaway by hopping a train. He ends up in nearby Portland, Maine where he meets some nice young people who convince him to return home after exposing him to jazz, which he discovers both he and Zyx love. Once home he is met by his crush, Hector, and has a first kiss. Finally the moment of the operation arrives with the results to follow and their aftermath.

Written as a first person diary, we see what it would be like to live as a thirteen year old and, if that's not a struggle enough, while fused to a fourth-dimensional being. As the novel progresses, so does the physical pain Felix endures and the fear of either dying from staying fused with Zyx or dying from the procedure. This is the main story-line. Other plot lines include the blurred lines of gender identity and sexuality. Zyx is neither male nor female, Grandy alternates genders each day and refuses to be defined by labeling pronouns, Feliz's first crush is on a boy, and Mom start out the novel with a boyfriend and ends with a girl friend. The LGBTQ characters are just that: characters. Their sexuality and gender identity, or lack their of, is not the main focus of the plot. It serves as an added layer to the story, making it an inclusive addition to the middle-grade novel shelves. The science part is cool and reader's will experience what it would be like to share a body with an alien. The less intense plot lines, the bully and the first crush, will remind readers that Felix is an ordinary kid like them, creating validity and leading the reader to believe that the science fiction bits of the account could really happen.. Because of the diary format, readers will be drawn into Felix's story and empathize with his fears and sorrows. Felix doesn't always make the best choices, running away and such, but he is human and we get it. Luckily, his family loves him no matter what and that is what pulls him through. After twenty-four years in this business I often feel that there is "nothing new under the sun" and then a book like Felix Yz comes along to prove me wrong.

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