I’m having a very difficult time right now, because this was an extraordinarily good book AND THEN THE ENDING WENT AND RUINED IT. I don’t even know what genre this is. Sci-fi? Contemporary? I feel a little bit tricked because it presents as this heartwarming contemporary…but then squishes in so much sci-fi elements I COULDN’T TELL WHAT WAS REAL AND WHAT WAS NOT. I don’t like it when books do that to me, okay?!
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK:
- It’s written in letters. Which I loved! I like letters. And because they’re telling each other about their pasts, there’s also scenes/dialogue too. Basically the format of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
- It’s about two dudes. I don’t know why, but I didn’t realise this before I picked it up. There’s romance (especially with Ollie crushing on the girl-next-door) but it’s mostly about FRIENDSHIP which I love.
- It’s half set in Germany!! YAY! I like it when books venture outside of America/Britain/Australia.
I really liked how this book starts. The voices of the two boys, Ollie and Moritz, are completely different. Ollie is like the sparkling ball of glitter (with dark secrets) and Moritz is like a moody eel (with darker secrets). Seriously, Moritz’s first letters are downright mean. He’s very formal and condescending. Ollie? He’s so darn adorable. He’s 14, while Moritz is 16. OKAY. BUT GET READY FOR IT. They’re never ever going to meet. You want to know why?
- Ollie is allergic to electricity. It gives him epileptic fits and he fries things. (Which is super interesting because She Is Not Invisible dabbled with this.)
- Moritz has no eyeballs but an out-of-this-world level of echolocation so he can basically “see” anything by hearing it. He also has a pacemaker. There’s your problem. NO MEETING. Not ever.
I loved this premise because it was different and intriguing. Ollie is trapped in this remote farmhouse with only his mum and no friends. Mortiz has a very tortured past and is bullied at school. And their illnesses are incredibly intriguing. I wanted to know MORE. I squinted at the realism of both illnesses, but a bit of googling (WHAT?! DON’T DENY YOU’D DO THIS TOO) told me both exist! Maybe not as intensely as in Because You’ll Never Meet Me but they definitely exist.
Also the writing is incredible. Not only are the voices epically different and unique, it’s totally captivating. And the character development?! IT WINS ALL THE AWARDS. Just wow. I really loved these two boys and I felt so bad for their problems and loved how their friendship grew. There was a ton of mystery, so I was constantly going “BUT GIVE ME ANSWERS” which is a great motivating pull to read on.
I really was not okay with the ending. When the big “reveals” of the mysteries started rolling it suddenly was NOT contemporary anymore. It was basically sci-fi! I FELT TRICKED. We go into laboratories and white lab coats and experiments. I just…well, it wasn’t the direction I thought it’d go. Then I wasn’t entirely happy with Ollie’s story conclusion because I felt it was unrealistic. I get that we like stories with hope! and happiness! for the conclusions, but not at the risk of turning it into a feels-good-catastrophe.
I’ll explain. SO DON’T CLICK ON THESE SPOILERS OR I’LL GROWL AT YOU. Unless, of course, you’ve a) read the book, or b) don’t plan on reading it or c) want me to growl.
DON’T GET ME WRONG! I seriously loved this book at the beginning. Sure the ending nosedived like a kitten into a cacti for me. I’m unhappy because I was tricked. But the characters are excellent and the letters were so exceptionally written and the story was captivating. It’s just not the realistic contemporary I expected. I can’t really trust any of the facts of the illness that were put forth, I’m going to assume it’s like 90% fantasy here.
THANKS BLOOMSBURY FOR THE ARC! Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas was published June, 2015.
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.