Thursday, 7 April 2016

Because You'll Never Meet by Leah Thomas

Description from Goodreads

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.

I tend to read more books from the fantasy genre than the contemporary one for one specific reason: I often feel that realistic YA fiction novels tend to use a similar template which I often find predictable and somewhat recycled. Maybe I haven't read the right contemporary books, but that's my experience with them. However, once in a while I feel like reading something a bit more realistic and down to earth than dragons and assassins in distant lands. So, since I had heard that Because You'll Never Meet Me is one of the most anticipated YA novels in 2015, I wanted to give it a try. After all, how could not a book telling about a young boy allergic to electricity not be cool, if not anything else. Turns out, Because You'll Never Meet Me is so, so much more than just cool.

First of all, the voices of Ollie and Moritz have to be two of my favourites, ever. Both of the characters had really unique and distinguishable voices, and I was immensely enjoying how their personalities shone through their letter exchanges (which the novel consists of). While Ollie comes across as this a bit hyperactive, fun-loving, yet gentle young man, Moritz is a brooding, proud, yet extremely intelligent person. I can't emphasize enough how much I enjoyed their banter, intelligent conversing, and just the general pondering on world and how cruel it sometimes can be. The conversations of these two very different people (yet tragically very similar in some sense) was the heart of the novel and I couldn't get enough of it, so I actually ended up reading this novel within a day.

Like I already mentioned, Ollie and Moritz were such fun pen pals together, intentionally and unintentionally. While Ollie was the one to crack jokes as fast as he could, Moritz provided the humour through sarcastic comments and observations - both of them equally funny. So funny indeed that I laughed out loud! And let me tell you, I can't remember when was the last time that I actually laughed while reading. Yeah, I do snort or kind of giggle occasionally, but never like this. I was basically howling! I'm just going to include here one of my many favourite quotes from the book:

"When I was born, I was born screaming. It was the same for almost everyone I've ever heard of; if you weren't born screaming, then you were probably born with too much optimism." 

See what I mean here? The humour was just so effortless, a bit dark yeah, but intelligent (sometimes also a bit silly which was just fine, if not perfect).

But I mean this book wasn't just about rainbows and unicorns, oh no. I can tell you honestly that at one point I bawled my eyes out because I was just hurting so much for Ollie and Moritz. In fact, I was really surprised that this very humorous and light read did take such a drastic turn, and turned into a very angsty and dark novel. In fact, at times it was just plainly horrid and shocking what happened in the novel. Even though I throughly enjoyed all the banter and laughs, I also appreciated the darker side of this fantastic duo. Both Ollie and Moritz have this dark past, which will be little by little revealed. Their pasts don't only make these wonderful guys perturbed, but also vulnerable, which makes you appreciate how strong they both really are.

As much as I hate to say this, there was one thing that I guess bothered me, in the lack of a better word. Even though Because You'll Never Meet Me is classified as a realistic fiction, I thought it had a slight science fiction twist to it. Well, what could you expect from a novel about a boy with electricity allergy, but I think the book would have worked very well without this sci-fi "twist". It wasn't exactly a twist, but towards the end of the novel there was a turn of events which I definitely didn't saw coming. I did find it really interesting, but I think it also ate away something from the novel. But. I think quite many readers will enjoy the shocking reveal, which I did too to some extent, but I can't exactly explain what about it bothered me so much. Because it was so unexpected? Because it wasn't so genre-typical? I don't know. I need to think more about this, and maybe I'll come back to this review and try to explain myself more clearly. 

I simply adored the special connection Ollie and Moritz shared and how their innocent letter exchanging turned into this amazing, profound, life changing friendship. I laughed with these boys, I cried with them, I hurt with them, and I was shocked with them. It was difficult not to get sucked into Ollie and Moritz's world and see the world with their eyes (hehe, not trying to be funny here, you'll understand what I mean when you read the book). Even though I have a bit mixed feelings about the ending, that isn't to say that I do not recommend Because You'll Never Meet, because I do!! This wonderfully hilarious yet deeply moving novel has to be one of my favourites from 2015! Actual rating 4.5.

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