Book Review # 59: Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Tuesday, 18 August 2015
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Bloomsbury.  I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review.

Title: Because You'll Never Meet Me
AuthorLeah Thomas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: July 2nd 2015
Pages: 344
SourceReview Copy from Publisher
PurchaseThe Book Depository / Waterstones

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.

Until the lovely Katrina at Bloomsbury sent this out to me alongside One by Sarah Crossan, I had no idea that this book even existed! In regards to this, Up front I have to bluntly say that this book was absolutely fabulous! It was such an unusual concept to have two boys who physically could not meet and tell their story through their letter correspondences. I found it so unique and it worked extremely well to the author's advantage. So what did I think of it?

Oh there are so many words that I could say about this book except I'm really struggling to formulate them coherently. Where do I even begin? This book was in my mind, absolutely phenomenal and is definitely one that I am going to be recommending to people if they ever ask for a contemporary that is that ever so slightly bit different. In terms of how much I enjoyed this book, I'm putting it up there on par with my enjoyment of Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and that is my favourite contemporary of the year so far! So Because You'll Never Meet me tells the story of Ollie and Moritz, two boys from different parts of the world who can never meet due to their conflicting health conditions. Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz has no eyes and has an electronic pacemaker. If they met then surely one would die. What really grasped me about this was the way that each of these elements were developed, especially in the writing which was absolutely gorgeous. Leah Thomas really exemplifies both Ollie and Moritz's conditions and writes about their physical views on the world. As Ollie is allergic to electricity, he is able to see all of the energy buzzing and Leah writes about these through colour. It was really interesting to see each of the different electrical items, the different energies they gave off and the way Ollie interpreted it. In Moritz's case, without eyes he relies on a version of echolocation to find his way around. By sending out a clicking frequency, Moritz is able to see everything without ever having to move around. There is a lovely quote that Moritz introduces himself to Ollie with and it's about being born listening. It is later contrasted when he talks about the fact that he is always seeing without ever looking. It was really beautiful to read about and definitely is one of the major perks of this novel. If you like in depth writing then you'll love this.

Throughout the plot we're introduced to the many trials and tribulations that the boys are faced with in this novel, and this is progressively shown through their character development. In the beginning of the novel, Ollie is portrayed as an up-beat perky kid with a very restricted view on society, whilst Mortiz is contrasted as being a quite negative, lonesome person. As the book progresses you find the roles to reverse back and forth quite consistently as we follow the events of each character. It was really emotionally gripping to read about and as a reader it does take you on an roller-coaster ride of feelings. I don't want to give too much away about the plot because I really want you to go into this book and be as attached to it as I was, but throughout this book there are hints that you know what is going on in the background of one of the character's lives and although I knew it was coming, I still felt awful for the character. It was truly heartbreaking and yet beautiful to see how their moments together were spent.

I mentioned before that Ollie and Moritz's characters fluctuate their emotions as the novel goes on, but going a bit more in depth with the development, I found myself torn between which character I enjoyed more of the perspective of. Whilst I found Moritz to be quite restrictive in the beginning, when he began to open up to Ollie, I found myself constantly eager to read his chapters. Ollie on the other hand was slightly opposite in role. In the beginning of the novel I was eager to read all of his chapters because I wanted to know so badly why everything had changed but then as it started to get past the half way mark, I wasn't as interested as I previously was. This is definitely not a criticism on the book because I found it to be very good for character development. It allowed for equal opportunities for the characters to sufficiently tell their story. 

In this book there is a focus on romance and what it means to be lovesick, but alas this is a minor feature in the long hall and you don't actually notice it. What I really enjoyed was the multiple romantic suggestions in this novel and the way that they were approached. Obviously we have Ollie's obsession with Liz which we see develop through recollection of memory whilst at the same time we have the gradual built up of Moritz's love interest. I loved that the fact that the LGBT elements that crept up in the story were just treated as another relationship and not something that was dramatically isolated in the story and made a major focus on. Whilst I didn't quite understand the romantic inclinations towards Owen, I really appreciated the 'bromance' between Moritz and Oliver, even if I wish it could have been something more. I am really looking forward to seeing where the sequel is going to take us, especially with the ending! I am so excited to see us visit all of the other 'experiment' children on the road trip and I am dying to see if my predictions for a eventual relationship between Oliver and Mortiz can ever, because in my mind I eternally ship them regardless.

So overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am going to find it so difficult to wait until early 2017 for the sequel. I am in great need for this book now and you can bet I am going to be picking up anything else this author writes in the future because she writes gorgeously! If you're still wondering whether you should pick this up then please do because I honestly feel that you will not be disappointed. I award Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas 5 out of 5 star rating on my classification scale. A truly unique tale of two boy's impossible friendship and their extraordinary determination to live beyond their labels. 

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