When S. K. Nicholas announced the X and I snippets on his blog were to become a novel, I stopped reading them. I knew at that moment I wanted to read the novel as a whole; I wanted as much as possible to be a surprise. I knew it would be beautiful.
What I did not realise, however, was how beautiful. I am familiar with Nicholas’ raw and visceral style in his A Journal for Damned Lovers trilogy and expected much the same in X and I. Instead, Nicholas’ writing is transcendant in X and I – it’s fresher, fluid and mesmerising. I read it in its entirety within 24 hours because I struggled to stop and it’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve had this reaction to a book.
The love story itself is magical. Not in a hearts and rainbows way but in the way Nicholas imbues every aspect with life: his choice to wrap the harrowing in layers of unbridled hope, his choice to create and develop a host of wonderfully charming and omniscient animals who dwell in the neighbourhood and nearby forests, and his choice to set a reunion at a fairground pulsing with neon lights beneath a firework sky.
Every choice is purposeful and allows each reader to reap the rewards of masterful storytelling. Nicholas has truly outdone himself with X and I, and I am bursting with both pride and admiration. I feel so lucky to live in a time with storytellers like this. This novel is so goddamn special and I urge you all to read it.