“I want to be in love. I’ve never, you know – felt that kind of passion great artists talk about. I want that. I want to feel that level of intensity. Not everyone wants love. I get that, you know? But me – I want to fall in love and be broken up with and get pissed and grieve and fall in love all over again. I’ve never felt any of that. I’ve just been doing the same shit. Nothing new. Nothing exciting.”
Review by: Ivy
Felix Love spends most of his time with his best friend Ezra, goofing around and trying not to worry about the future. When an anonymous student puts up a hurtful gallery concerning Felix’s trans identity, he begins to suspect everyone at St. Catherine’s, his fancy art school. Felix focuses on his frenemy Declan and pursues revenge through catfishing. Things become more complicated when Felix meets a new side of Declan, his friendship with Ezra tested as it appears Felix might finally be falling in love.
I liked Kacen’s previous YA novel, This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story, but Felix Ever After blew me away immensely more. They try and tackle a lot in one novel, but the story ultimately centers on a teenager falling in love for the first time. Though that prompt seems stereotypical, Kacen approaches it from every angle, creating a surprising, realistic, and personal story unlike most romance-centered YA novels.
The side characters in Felix were all real, complex, and commonly swoon-worthy. I loved getting to see background players like Leah rise to the foreground as the novel progressed, as well as the deeper explorations of Ezra and Declan. Felix felt like an open-book, but it made him immediately relatable and tied the reader deeply to his emotional struggles over the course of the novel.
Felix was written to be accessible to cisgender people, which makes sense, but it sometimes led to dragging or awkward explanations that took me out of the story as a trans reader. That said, this book shut down many typical arguments cis people make about trans folks in satisfying, victorious ways which I greatly enjoyed. Transphobes, TERFs, and privileged gay men are all utterly roasted, and I was completely here for it.
Overall, Felix Ever After was a pleasant surprise. Felix himself was relatable without being bland and strong without being emotionless. His talk about art was meaningful and added depth to the novel. Kacen Callender is a unique, relevant, and reliable author whose work will always stand out no matter the genre they write in.
Rating: five metaphorical self-portraits for your Brown portfolio/five
For fans of: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith, I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Order a copy of the book here: https://www.bookpeople.com/book/9780062820259
- “It feels fragile, this thing – like it could slip through my fingers like water and spill at my feet.”
- “It’s easier, I think, to love someone you know won’t love you – to chase them, knowing they won’t feel the same way – to chase them, knowing they won’t feel the same way – than to love someone who might love you back. To risk loving each other and losing it all.”
- “Once I start screaming, I can’t stop. I scream so hard my throat feels raw and my heart pounds. I’m screaming with joy. I’m screaming with pain. I’m screaming with the awe that I’m here, that we’re all here, and that we’re here because of the people before us, the people who couldn’t be here, and I’m screaming for myself too.”