Published on: July 2nd 2015
Published by: Bloomsbury
Series: Because You'll Never Meet Me #1
Genre: YA Contemporary, YA SciFi
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In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.
A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.
Oh I feel so disappointed about this book. Which is probably not the thing you want to read right at the beginning of my book. But I’m all for being honest and just getting straight to the point… this book was not what I had hoped it would be.
I liked the way it was written. I’ve only ever read one book written as letters before and that was Where Rainbows End/Love, Rosie. I ended up very conflicted about that book, because I loved the unique way of writing, but at the same time I really missed the actual physical interaction between characters. We did get a little bit of that interaction in Because You’ll Never Meet Me in the form of flashbacks written in the letters, but still it wasn’t quite enough for me. So yet again, one of the things that I really liked about a book is also the things that makes me not like it as much.
“But family is compulsory. Family that does not care is not family. Perhaps friends that do care are something more than family?”
On starting this book I really liked Ollie and found Moritz kind of snotty and annoying. But the fascinating thing was that by the end of the book I found myself like Moritz more than Ollie. I just felt like Ollie’s free spirit changed Moritz for the better, whereas Ollie just seemed to become more and more subdued and I would sometimes find myself skimming parts of his chapter to get back to Moritz’s. Both voices and personalities were distinct and clashed at times but also beautifully complemented each other and over the space of the book their trust in each other, so therefore their friendship grows as well.
“I do not trust you, Oliver. People like you do not realize what power words can have. Words are impossible to see. Words can be twisted in so many different directions. Some of us need to be more careful with them.”
So we have to talk about the illness aspect of this book, which is very cleverly thought out, and at first seems such a good concept. I really liked the idea of these two boys who become good friends but can never meet. I found myself coming up with theories in my head, most with either one or both of them dying after meeting each other, and I was really intrigued to see where Leah Thomas was going to take it. That was until the point where she took it in a direction that I was not expecting nor did I want. She made it a Sci-Fi, and it got very weird. It starts a very realistic YA contemporary and so the switch to Sci-Fi felt wrong and clumsy and just ruined the whole feel of the story for me. That sadly is where Leah lost my interest.
“I am telling you to celebrate what is real in your life. Celebrate who you are.”
Lastly, the cover. Like with the book, it seems to have such potential to be something great, and then it just doesn’t quite get there. I like the image, the electricity lines which are very important to this book, Ollie’s story especially. But the title, it just looks wrong. Why couldn’t it be straight? I read a review for this book a few days ago by Confessions of Carlisa in which she says “maybe the cover is a symbol for the genre. Just kind of all over the place. No? Okay.” which is just so true and made me laugh so much.
“Even if you are powerless, your words are not.”
You can’t not praise Leah Thomas for this very unique debut. Her writing is great and the concept really pulled me towards this book and made me want to read it. Which was why I was so disappointed when things started going in a direction that I didn’t particularly want them to. These ‘off bits’ did slow down my reading because I seemed to always pick something else over reading this book, but I eventually did finish it and I am glad that I did, mostly because I had spent money on it.
This book has had some great reviews, which was what made me pick it up. So don’t let my review put you off if you want to read it, because everyone has different opinions and maybe you will love it. I’d just advise maybe getting it from your local library rather then buying it… just in case.
Re-Readability: Probably Not
I would recommend this book to fans of: YA contemporary, sci-fi, books with multiple genres, deep childhood friendships, unique format, books with letters, characters who are pen-pals, books with characters who have disabilities/illnesses.
Have you read Because You’ll Never Meet Me?
Have you read any other books with characters with unique disabilities/illnesses? How about books written in the form of letters between the characters?