I received this book for free from Bloomsbury 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 Publishing on July 2nd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Social Issues, Friendship, General
Ollie and Moritz are two teenagers who will never meet. Each of them lives with a life-affecting illness. Contact with electricity sends Ollie into debilitating seizures, while Moritz has a heart defect and is kept alive by an electronic pacemaker. If they did meet, Ollie would seize, but turning off the pacemaker would kill Moritz.Through an exchange of letters, the two boys develop a strong bond of friendship which becomes a lifeline during dark times until Moritz reveals that he holds the key to their shared, sinister past, and has been keeping it from Ollie all along.
Review: Leah Thomas’ debut Because You’ll Never Meet Me arrived through the postbox as a surprise with a very intriguing premise. I find epistolary novels quite interesting and the idea of this impossible sounding friendship where they can never meet was unusual.
Ollie is allergic to electricity, coming into contact with it causes seizures so he is virtually stranded off the grid. His only real friend is a neighbour’s relative and he struggles with the more normal life she has and reconciling and competing with that with his own isolated world. Ollie is put in touch with Moritz, a teenager in Germany who relies on an electronic pacemaker who was born with no eyes, by his doctor and while it isn’t entirely smooth at first, a friendship forms.
The plot goes in a direction I didn’t entirely expect, though as the story progressed I did guess some elements, and it made the novel a lot more unusual than I thought it was going to be. At first, I wasn’t sure on the development and I think it may be a little divisive but overall I think Thomas succeeded with pulling it off.
I thought the characterisation was good and both Ollie and Moritz came through clearly in their letters. I found Ollie’s relationship with Liz didn’t entirely work for me, as he’s fixating on the only person really around him and that just isn’t the healthiest set up. However, I think this is acknowledged by the characters within the book and Thomas explored this well. After all, if you can only really have one friend you regularly see, it’s going to be intense.
There are a lot of really interesting strands to Because You’ll Never Meet Me and it’s a book slightly hard to review as I don’t want to spoil the plot by going too far into them, even thinking of books to compare it to or who to recommend it to feels a little spoilerish.
What I will say is this is one of those books that’s hard to categorise; it is contemporary, is it sci-fi? It’s about friendship and trust and the characters make it special. The optimism and sadness, the hope and fear, both boys really come through and the characterisation is remarkable.
I enjoyed Because You’ll Never Meet Me; it’s original, engaging and a well-written debut I managed to devour in one sitting.