Published by Bloomsbury Australia on July 2, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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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.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a charming story of two penpals with unusual conditions – Ollie who is allergic to electricity, and Moritz, who has no eyes and needs a pacemaker for his heart. I’m glad I was warned this was speculative fiction – because it would have been a bit hard to believe otherwise!
The boys approach life, their conditions and needing to write to each other in different ways. Ollie is a cheerful, talkative and bubbly individual who embraces the opportunity to write to Moritz. Moritz is prickly, guarded and pompous, who first insults and appears repelled by Ollie’s letters.
“Like I said, you’ve got all the makings of a comic book superhero! If people give you shit for being pretty cool, stand up and peel your goggles off and scare them away. Laugh maniacally and send happy dolphin-waves-” – Ollie.
The evolution of Ollie and Moritz’s friendship was a beautiful focus for the novel. As the two start to open up, they connect through their disabilities, mutual feelings of loneliness and general curiosity about each other. They eventually divulge their past, secrets and fears. I’ve never met a pair as charming as these two, and I loved their distinct voices and personalities.
Moritz was hard to like at the start, but I ended up really liking his character. It’s completely freaky that he has no eyes (there’s only skin where his eyes should be) but he’s pretty much a German Daredevil! With his hilariously formal way at approaching things, avoiding topics and taking on board Ollie’s encouragement, he has a charm of his own. I liked hearing about his experiences in Germany and was shocked to learn about his past.
“I finally despised you then, Ollie. My head was tearing itself asunder. I could not filter a single whispering thing out. The thing about having no eyes is that you can never close them.” – Moritz.
Ollie on the other hand, was such a darling. He had so much curiosity, an eagerness to make friends and a confidence boosting effect on others. I loved all of his talk about superheroes and comics. Ollie slowly reveals his crush on Liz over the course of his letters, and how he ended up in a cabin in the woods. I wasn’t a fan of Liz however, she got rather selfish and short-sighted at times and I felt so let down by her. Thankfully, the romance was a subplot though.
Things get pretty dark and shocking towards the end, where you’ll have to suspend your disbelief. I appreciated the attempt to explain the two unlikely diseases in a somewhat ‘realistic’ manner, but the ending is rather open-ended, which isn’t for everyone.
“I spent so long being unseen. Until you wrote me, no one would follow me to dark places.” – Moritz.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me is charming story of friendship, disability and bonding over mutual circumstances between two boys with crazy superpower conditions. Although the plot gets a bit outlandish at times, I really enjoyed the story of growth and companionship.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this book for review.
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