This book understood teenagers in a way that I felt other books have fallen short. Alex as a character and in his thoughts, felt like a real person in his strengths, flaws, and dialogue. He didn’t feel contrived or like a tool for a story. He felt real in how he walked through the world even though he had powers that we don’t have.
The anxiety that Alex feels is partly driven by his powers, but it also felt like the kind of anxiety I myself have on a daily basis. His powers really drew me into this story in how they saturated his life and drove so much of his thoughts and behaviors. As someone who gets obsessive over certain things or gets hung up on worst case scenarios, I related to Alex even if I don’t have the powers he has.
Another aspect of this book I appreciated was Alex’s realistic relationship with his aunt, girlfriend, and brother. They weren’t perfect with each other, and their issues felt real and relatable. Sometimes families come off as phony to me, but this family felt realistic and based on how real people act, not how characters in a story should act–and it made a huge difference in my reading experience.
In Morris’ acknowledgements, she said that this book was about Black-boy-joy-despite, and I think that she did that super well. Obviously as a white woman I can’t relate to this book the same way other readers will, but I felt that it captured adolescence so well and Alex’s fear and rage about living in the world as Black boy felt very real and justified.
This book is for realistic and fantasy lovers alike and I hope to see more reviews about it!