I try to keep a pulse on what agents, editors, and book publishers are looking for in new stories. Reading their blogs, web pages, and tweets can often give me insights (See Manuscript Wish List). Specifically in MG, here is what pops up the most:
- I want diversity in race and LGBTQ
- Give me a character who is not an everyday girl or boy
- Show me the struggles of someone with a disability
There are certainly books out there who cover one or two of these, but with the quirky FELIX Yz, all of them are covered. Throw in a bully, a single parent family, and some light science fiction and you have one of the most unusual titles to come along this year or any year.
Felix is 13 and narrates the story. He has a unique problem after a freak accident left him fused with an alien inside him ten years prior. The alien has a name, Zyx, and the first sentence you hear from Zyx on page three makes you think this is going to be one weird ride: do what you want do not do what you do not want.
The story begins 29 days before the procedure doctors and scientists have devised to separate the alien from the boy. Each chapter is a countdown in name and content—29 DAYS TO GO, etc. until you reach the chapter titled ZEROMOMENT.
The pages in between are about Felix trying to live a normal life in middle school despite his strange movements and ticks, courtesy of the other being nesting inside him. Felix is attracted to another boy in his class, Hector, and that thread carries on to the end. At home are a bisexual mother dating again, a piano prodigy older sister, and a grandparent who hasn’t settled on one gender going with Vern part of the week and Vera the rest.
Felix is scared of what might happen to him on the crucial day, but his dialog is often funny and perceptive. This one may not be for everyone, and for sure it is more of an upper MG title (10-13). It will make you see how life keeps happening no matter what.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 288
FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) When Felix Yz was three years old, a hyperintelligent fourth-dimensional being became fused inside him after one of his father’s science experiments went terribly wrong. The creature is friendly, but Felix—now thirteen—won’t be able to grow to adulthood while they’re still melded together. So a risky Procedure is planned to separate them . . . but it may end up killing them both instead.
This book is Felix’s secret blog, a chronicle of the days leading up to the Procedure. Some days it’s business as usual—time with his close-knit family, run-ins with a bully at school, anxiety about his crush. But life becomes more out of the ordinary with the arrival of an Estonian chess Grandmaster, the revelation of family secrets, and a train-hopping journey. When it all might be over in a few days, what matters most?
Told in an unforgettable voice full of heart and humor, Felix Yz is a groundbreaking story about how we are all separate, but all connected too.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: FELIX Yz by Lisa Bunker
- Zyx communicates with Felix by taking control of Felix’s fingers and typing his thoughts. A perfect way for an alien to communicate with this earth boy.
- Acceptance is the main issue here…of who you are, who you want to be, and pushing away others who can’t accept ways different from their own.
- At first you’ll be trying to understand the alternate pronouns (vo and veir?), but they soon become a natural part of the story. Yes, this will test your reading brain to the max, but you’ll survive.
- There is a lot going on here with the other characters, but thankfully its Felix who puts everything into proper perspective.
- I’ll call this a contemporary sci-fi. It seems like a fitting new label for a new type of story.
The only thing I have to report about today is that it has been less fun than usual for a Friday because tomorrow, all day, is the trip to the Facility to finish the Fitting of the Apparatus. Gah, all these Capital Letters. But, that’s how it feels, so, Whatever. The Facility is the science complex where the accident happened and where the Procedure is going to be performed. It’s a long way from here, back where we used to live. (Of course the fifty-mile rule doesn’t apply to driving there.) And may I just say I am not looking forward to any part of this, at all?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lisa Bunker has written stories all her life. Before setting up shop as a full-time author she had a 30-year career in non-commercial broadcasting, most recently as Program Director of the community radio station in Portland, Maine. Besides Maine she has made homes in New Mexico, southern California, Seattle, and the Florida panhandle. She currently lives in Exeter, New Hampshire with her partner and her cat. She has two grown children. When not writing she reads, plays piano, knits, takes long walks, does yoga, and studies languages. She is not as good at chess as she would like to be, but still plays anyway.(Read more at Lisa’s author web page)
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.