Title: Felix Yz
Author: Lisa Bunker
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Number of Pages: 288
I didn’t like this book quite as much as Zenobia July, but it was still an well-executed coming-of-age story with an attention-grabbing premise. The main character, Felix, is a gay 13-year-old boy who shares a body with an alien entity named ‘Zyx,’ thanks to the lab accident that killed his dad when he was three. Zyx is a benevolent creature but due to only having control of half of his body Felix’s motor skills are severely impaired and people think he’s mentally disabled.
Felix is loved unconditionally by his eccentric family but his days are filled with anxiety and mounting panic because he’s on the cusp of undergoing a surgery that will hopefully remove Zyx from his body. The likelihood that Felix will survive the operation is low and he writes in a diary chronicling his experiences of being bullied at school, his crush on a classmate, and his own fears concerning his mortality. If they wait to operate Felix’s chances of survival are even lower but in a blind moment of panic he runs away from home, attempting to prolong the inevitable.
I’ll admit, Felix’s narrative voice was a little hard to take at times. He sounded pretty immature even for a thirteen-year-old and and he had a habit of using ‘Old Mother Hubbard’ as an explanation as in; Old Mother Hubbard! Could this boy be any more perfect!? It was a little bit annoying and his family was ECCENTRIC with a capital E, including a genderqueer grandparent who identifies as a man or a woman depending on the day of the week.
The sheer amount of LGBTQIA+ representation felt a little forced, which is also the way I felt about Zenobia July– along with the gay protagonist and the genderqueer grandparent the mom was bisexual and one of minor characters was a trans man. Obviously, that kind of representation is important but the way Lisa Bunker does it seems a bit like overkill. What I did really like about this book was the way the author developed the science fiction elements and presented them in a way that felt matter-of-fact and weirdly plausible, like things that could actually happen in real life.
It also draws comparisons to disabilities people have in real life that hijack their nervous systems and fine motor skills, but not in a way that’s heavy-handed. Because of the seriousness of Felix’s situation, the novel has a lot of suspense as the chapters bring the reader closer to the day of the operation. I also thought it did a good job showing how a life like Felix’s can be both different and strangely similar to these of his peers, and how he has normal growing-up experiences despite his other-ness and status as an outcast.