Because You'll Never Meet Me - Leah Thomas

Genre: Young Adult/Coming of Age/Science Fiction
Synopsis: 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.


Review: This is another book into which I have gone with preconceptions that have spoiled my enjoyment of it. Had I taken a bit of time to look at the genre categorizations on Goodreads, I would have noticed 'Sci-fi' among them. This is definitely a YA story of a blossoming friendship between two differently-abled social outcasts, but it is set to a quirky sci-fi background with a surprisingly dark core. I didn't know, going in, that this is such an usual mishmash of genres, but once I realised and began suspending disbelief appropriately, I rapidly went from thinking it was 'pretty good' to 'superb'.

The whole book is written in the form of letters, exchanged between a wildly enthusiastic brightsider named Ollie and a condescending pessimist named Moritz. Possibly my favourite thing about this book - and a testament to how well written it is, is how distinctive and well crafted these two personalities are. For each letter sent, espousing a viewpoint or opinion on a set of events, the other boy has a completely different perspective as per his personality, which is just as biased in its own way. But by calling each other on their flaws and offering alternatives to what each believes innately must be so, they challenge each other to diversify their entire attitudes to life - and to themselves.

The actual story, naturally, follows two threads - what happens in each boy's life, and both stories are unusual in their details but universal in their heart - love, rejection, mortality and growing up. Everyone knows what it feels like to feel different, to feel lost and unsure, to want to hide, to be afraid to face scary truths and growing up. Throughout the story, both boys very much grow up and overcome their self-imposed limitations, as well as learning to cope with those outside their control.

Most of the complaints I've seen about this relate to the sudden dose of sci-fi exposition about 2/3 of the way through - but keep an open mind and you might love it.

Rating: 5/5

No comments: