Author: Leah Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Science Fiction
Source: Bloomsbury Australia
In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.Review by Nara
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.
I feel like Because You'll Never Meet Me was just that little bit too ambitious. It attempts to combine a heck of a lot of ideas, extends across several genres (contemporary, scifi, a little mystery) and deals with two very complex characters with extensive backstories- all in the space of a 350 page novel.
I really like epistolary novels, and I feel that aspect of the book was done really well. The two voices of our protagonists are so clearly distinct, it's actually like it's two different authors writing them. Ollie's rambly, light hearted voice completely contrasts Moritz's more serious, formal, almost intellectual tone.
The character development is similarly well done, with both main characters undergoing big changes throughout the story. They influence each other through their friendship, even though that friendship is only through letters. You can see how they help each other solve their problems, and encourage (however roughly on Moritz's side) each other to change.
The biggest problem I had with the book was that it just seemed really unrealistic. I thought the book was going for a sort of magical realism angle, with Ollie being "allergic" to electricity and Moritz having no eyes and instead using echolocation to see. But when it was revealed how the two characters got their conditions, I just felt like it was a bit too unrealistic for me to accept. I feel like how things are "resolved" in the end was a bit unrealistic as well.
Despite the problems I had with suspension of disbelief, the character development and writing was definitely enough to keep me interested in the book. Give it a read if it interests you too.