All You Need is Love: A Review of Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
The world sucks, but you know what doesn’t suck? Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender.
If you haven’t heard of this book yet, it was published this past May, and the internet has been singing its praises since it dropped. Felix Ever After follows the title character during a summer course at an art school in NYC. Felix is black, queer, and transgender; which he fears may be one marginalization too many. His identity is not set in stone though; he’s still trying to find the correct terms/labels to identify himself.
This is love story first and foremost. This is Felix’s story of finding romantic love as well as self love. After a catfishing incident goes wrong, Felix finds himself in a love triangle with his best friend and someone he considers an enemy…at least at the start of the novel.
For anyone who has yet to read this book a trigger warning is in order. This book isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Felix Ever After deals with transphobia, specifically the exposing of pre-transition photos and Felix’s deadname along with transphobic, misgendering messages directed towards the main character.
This book is absolutely beautiful. It’s stunning. It cured my depression.
I’m actually being serious with that last one, this book has put a true smile on my face and has been one of the reasons I’ve been less depressed as of late. That has a lot to do with the characters in this book.
In the first half of the book, there is a bit of a friend group made up of Felix, Ezra, Marisol, Leah, and occasionally a random fifth person. This group, and more specifically the conversations they had, reminded me a lot of friends from college. There were many points where it felt like I was having poignant conversations with friends whilst getting wine drunk.
Now, let’s go through these characters. We’ll start with Marisol. She’s a bitch who knows she’s pretty, think along the lines of Heather Chandler, at first I had no choice but to stan. Turns out she’s actually a truly awful person because she’s kinda transphobic. I no longer stan.
Leah is up next. She’s a photographer, and is definitely the quieter of the two girls. She has a dark side though; she’s a hacker! Don’t worry, she only uses her hacking for good and leaves positive messages in the phones of the people she hacks; she’s a sweet bean. She’s all for finding out who is behind the attack on Felix. I stan good friends.
Now we come to the boys. Ezra is Felix’s best friend. He stands with Felix through everything from the attack to just day to day life. He’s loud, proud, and always tries to have the time of his life. He’s also in love with his best friend. It’s honestly super cute, and I ship him and Felix so hard. If you didn’t guess, Ezra is one third of the love triangle.
Another third of the love triangle is Declan. Declan’s role in this story is part love interest, part villain. He’s Felix’s rival as they both plan on applying for the same full ride scholarship to Brown. Declan comes across as over confident, on the verge of cocky if I’m being honest, but he’s also very insecure. He’s also the one that Felix catfishes; we’ll talk more on that in a little bit. Declan is my least favorite character. He’s super pretentious, and he reminds me a lot of someone I knew in college who I wasn’t a big fan of. There is nothing wrong with this character, but I just had that bias in my head the entire time so I couldn’t bring myself to like Declan.
This finally brings us to Felix. Like I’ve probably said multiple times by now, Felix identifies as trans, queer, and black, and he’s never been in love. Very ironic considering his last name is Love. He’s very quiet and insecure which I feel stems from his identity. He’s proud of who he is and doesn’t hide who he is, but at the same time he isn’t shouting from the roof tops about everything he identifies as.
All of these characters are super realistic. Callender does an amazing job at creating dialogue for these teens. The conversations the characters have range from ideal gossip to heavy topics regarding the LGBTQA+ community. It doesn’t feel like Callender is trying to be hip with making the characters use slang; everything feels natural.
If you remember back to my post on One of Us is Next, the characters used a lot of slang in the book but it was so unnatural. Literally one of the character referred to him and his on-again-off-again girlfriend as “endgame.” No one talks like that in real life! In Felix Ever After the teens aren’t trying to talk like they exist solely on the internet. They talk about shipping people, but never about themselves and someone they know. Some of the characters try to sound smarter than they actually are, others talk mainly about themselves, and most just talk like a normal human being.
They also make mistakes; some are worse than others. These characters are all teenagers, Felix is 17 and the oldest one is maybe 18. When the photos of Felix pre-transition go up, his response is to blame Declan and catfish him. He has no proof that Declan put up the photos, but that doesn’t matter because Declan is definitely behind the crime in his mind.
What Felix does is out of anger and hurt. Nothing really matters to him outside of getting revenge on who he thinks wronged him. I want to be mad at his decision, but I can’t. He’s extremely hurt by what has been done to him, and he’s only 17-years-old. He’s still a kid, he’s going to make stupid decisions. I can’t say I’m happy with his decision to catfish someone, but it does come back to bite him in the butt by the end of the novel and I respect that that happens.
I have very little faults with this book. I love how realistic all the characters and dialogue is. What I would prefer would be more time with the true villain of the story. A lot of time is spent going through who could be behind putting Felix’s old photos and deadname up, but I don’t think enough time is spent with the villain. You do technically meet this person in the beginning of the book, but not enough time is spent with said person to make me feel betrayed or lead me to believe this person was behind the issue. I would have preferred the reveal to be a more stinging betrayal.
This book is still so good though. The writing is a 10 out of 10. The characters are super realistic. The plot is fantastic. And most importantly, this book has provided me with insight on the transgender community. Please give this book a read. It is genuinely one of the best books I have read this year.