A freak scientific accident leaves an ordinary Maine boy atomically bonded to a fourth-dimensional being in this debut middle-grade novel.
“If it wasn’t for the fused-with-Zyx-thing, I suppose I would just be normal—whatever that means,” writes Felix Yz in his “secret blog,” first published by Bunker as online interactive fiction. Counting down the days until an experimental Procedure might free him (possibly fatally) from the alien bond that has made movement and speech painfully difficult for 10 years, the white eighth-grader chronicles the quirks of his loving family, his passion for drawing and writing, his run-ins with bullies, and his awkward crush on another boy at school. Meanwhile Zyx (typing through Felix’s fingers) provides running commentary as something of a “wise fool” archetype, dispensing gnomic truths and mystical insight with the eager charm of a hyperintelligent puppy. But the outré premise is only the setup for this unique, whimsical tale; it’s also about webcomics and chess and geometry and jazz and the astonishing “threeness of things.” It’s about the suffocating terror of death and the sweet agony of first love. It’s about transcending binaries, both the obvious—Felix’s mother is bisexual, his grandparent gender-fluid, the boy of his dreams both biracial (black/white) and bilingual—and those more subtle and profound, all in the most gloriously matter-of-fact way. Above all, it’s about Felix’s voice: acutely perceptive, disarmingly witty, devastatingly honest, and utterly captivating.
Joyful, heartbreaking, completely bonkers, and exuberantly alive. (Science fiction. 10-adult)