Because you will never meet me
It’s impossible not to love everything about this book. BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER MEET ME is told completely in letters between two boys who’ve never met. In fact, if they did meet, one of them would most likely die. The book starts off with a letter from Ollie, a boy who lives in the middle of the woods, isolated from society with very good reason: He is allergic to electricity. Moritz, on the other hand, has an electric pacemaker. On top of that, he is eye-less and has mastered the art of echolocation to navigate his way around school. Their letters convey their unique stories — Ollie’s relationship with a girl named Liz and Moritz’s troubles with a bully. Through their correspondence, the two find both friendship and hope even in the tragedy that tied their pasts together.
I have a love-hate relationship with epistolary novels. Either they are beyond fantastic and use the format wisely or they sound overly pretentious. I’m happy to say that Leah Thomas’s debut novel is exceedingly well written. Every letter shows something new about Ollie or Moritz and the characters’ voices couldn’t be stronger or more clear-cut to the reader. Ollie’s quirky optimism and the thawing of Moritz’s cynical heart are truly inspiring, not to mention that their letters are filled with humor and some great one-liners.
BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER MEET ME is also incredibly self-aware. With the element of a mysterious laboratory past and the two characters’ weird circumstances, the reader can’t help but draw comparisons to Matt Murdock’s sightless superpower or Electro’s relationship with electricity — but the book beats you to it by actually bringing up the Marvel comic books. It takes a little suspension of disbelief, since the novel has the tone of YA contemporary fiction but soon dips into sci-fi. However, the poignancy and surprising truths about life help ground the plot.
The danger of writing in letter format is that one character’s story may overpower the other. But what surprised me is that Thomas makes each and every chapter emotionally greater than the one before. The best part is, you’re truly living the life of either Ollie or Moritz as they recount their stories to each other. You have been warned, reader: you’ll fall in love with these strangely wonderful characters and their bizarre lives from the first page.
First Published @ Teensread.com