Series Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Series Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah ThomasBecause You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Series: Because You'll Never Meet Me #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 2, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 344
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
four-stars

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 has been on my shelves, taunting my failure, for well over a year. I grabbed a copy of the sequel at ALA annual to force myself to get to this book, hoping that I would like it and not hate myself for grabbing book two.  Because You’ll Never Meet Me is one of those debuts that’s so well done that it’s hard to believe it’s Thomas’ first book. High concept, emotional, and beautifully written, there’s so much to love about Because You’ll Never Meet Me.

Leah Thomas brings epistolary novels back. Ollie and Moritz exchange actual letters in the mail, doing the old school pen pal thing out of necessity rather than hipsterness. Ollie’s allergic to electricity and unable to go too far past his mother’s remote cabin in the woods. He can’t use a computer, and he’s only met a couple other kids his age. Moritz lives in Germany, and, born without eyes, he cannot read physically read the letters Ollie sends. The two were linked up as pen pals with the idea that they might be sympathetic to one another’s plights.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me starts slow. From the start, I was impressed with the disparate and strong narrative voices of both Ollie and Moritz, but I wasn’t invested until about halfway through. There’s not much of a plot until the halfway point, and it reads like a fairly standard, though quirky, contemporary until that point. Basically, until the time where Moritz started opening up and really telling his story, I thought it was great but I wasn’t that into it. I’m actually not totally sure how I feel about the plot, because I think there’s maybe not enough focus on it to really develop it fully but I also don’t really mind?

Ollie has this wonderful, vibrant, chirpy writing. He can at times be a bit much, rambunctious, perky to the max, and twee. He uses more exclamation points than are perhaps wise. He’s cute and lovable. However, Thomas does a brilliant job with character development, because there’s so much more to Ollie than the determinedly cheerful face he puts on in his earlier letters. Though I’m really not into his ship with Liz, I do like when she drops knowledge on him about how self-centered he is.

Moritz serves as a foil to Ollie. Unlike Ollie, he doesn’t bear his trials cheerfully. Moritz is a grump, and he hates pretty much everything, including Ollie’s initial cheerful banter. The evolution of their relationship is slow and charming. View Spoiler » It’s especially meaningful when Moritz begins to open up and tell his truths, because he’s so incredibly not trusting. Also, it’s awesome that they call each other on their bullshit reliably.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a magical novel of friendship with brilliantly done first person dual POV.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Series Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah ThomasNowhere Near You by Leah Thomas
Series: Because You'll Never Meet Me #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on February 7, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Following up her acclaimed debut, Because You'll Never Meet Me, Leah Thomas continues the stories of Ollie and Moritz in another heart-warming story of unique friendship.

Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods--no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity--and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can't escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they've made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?

As with Because You’ll Never Meet Me, Nowhere Near You is a triumph of character building, creativity, and craft.

In some ways, I loved Nowhere Near You much more. Plotwise, there’s a lot more going on, and I found myself engaged in the story much earlier, which makes sense as I was already invested. On the other hand, the plot felt a bit scattered. There are a lot of new characters introduced, and some of those have arcs that don’t resolve. Actually, none of the plots resolved satisfactorily. This book’s REALLY open-ended. It feels like there should be a third to resolve Moritz and his mother, if nothing else. View Spoiler »

For all that overall plotwise, I wanted more, emotionally Nowhere Near You hit harder. The stakes raise, and Leah Thomas gutpunches you in the feels. She continues to be amazing at highlighting not just the wonderful aspects of the MCs’ characters but also their darker parts. It would be so easy to make Ollie twee and cute only, but he’s complex and so much more than you see on the surface. The relationship between Ollie and Moritz is beautiful, and the way they build each other up during bad times is endlessly touching. I also love that they do have fights but work through them.

I highly recommend this series (even though it needs a third book! *coughs in Bloomsbury’s general direction*) to anyone who enjoys creative fiction and strong characterization.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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