I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Science Fiction, YA
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 don’t really know where to start with this book review because honestly I don’t really know what happened with this book. I started off really liking it. Each chapter is a letter from these two pen pals, Moritz and Ollie. They both have…disabilities, I guess you could say. Ollie is “allergic” to electricity, or has something similar but way more intense than epilepsy. Moritz was born without eyes and also has a pacemaker, something that makes it nearly impossible for Ollie and him to ever meet. So it started off interesting and captivating. I wanted to know about their very interesting lives. But the story shifted and lost focus and I don’t know. I’ll try to explain later.
First I did like it. I really enjoyed the letter format. I can only imagine how fun it must have been for Leah Thomas to write the story like this. With each letter, she was quite literally exploring the life of that character. Likewise, we–the readers–were exploring them. And the two characters were doing the same. They had never met but they’ve confided in each other and become best friends. Very unlikely best friends.
And the writing was awesome. The voices of the two characters were unique and distinct but both worked beautifully for who they were and who they become by the end of the book.
I did have a slight problem with some of the secondary characters, specifically Moritz’s friends. I could tell that the attempt to round them out was made, to make previously unlikable characters likable…but I just couldn’t think of them like that. I still didn’t like them at the end. And that’s okay if that’s what’s intended, but, like I said, I think I was supposed to like them. Anyways, maybe that’s just me.
But the biggest problem of this book is the genre. I went in thinking this is a contemporary, realistic YA fiction novel. For 3/4 of the book, I thought this was a contemporary, realistic YA fiction novel. Then, it shifts and becomes almost sci-fi. Like what the heck. I was not expecting that and I don’t think it worked well. I’ve talked about this before in reviews…I think that if too many genres are present in a book, it loses its potency. The book itself can become frazzled and disjointed. And this ruined the book for me.
Also I just have to say, the cover is not good. It’s the just the title. It should not be all over the place like that. It would look so much better if the title was just all next to each other and straight…But maybe the cover is a symbol for the genre. Just kind of all over the place. No? Okay.
So, personally I didn’t like this book. But it’s a story about deep friendship between two boys…something you don’t see that often in YA lit. And it’s gotten great reviews from others. So don’t let mine stop you if contemporary/kind-of-scifi sounds like your kind of thing.