Not gonna lie: I picked this book to read because the cover and title caught my eye. I even posted about its cover in a post during NaBloPoMo 2016 here. Finally, almost two and a half years later, I got around to reading it! I hope you’ll consider giving this YA contemporary/sci-fi book a chance, too.
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie has a life-threatening allergy to electricity, and Moritz’s weak heart requires a pacemaker. If they ever did meet, they could both die. Living as recluses 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. But when Moritz reveals the key to their shared, sinister past that began years ago in a mysterious German laboratory, their friendship faces a test neither one of them expected.
Narrated in letter form by Ollie and Moritz-two extraordinary new voices-this story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances blends elements of science fiction with coming of age themes, in a humorous, dark, and ultimately inspiring tale is completely unforgettable.
In Because You’ll Never Meet Me, two teenage boys write letters to each other as they navigate life with unusual medical conditions. Ollie lives with his mom in a cabin without electricity in the woods of Michigan because he’s allergic to electricity. When he even comes close to electricity – be it power lines, televisions, cell phones, cars, or batteries – he encounters life-threatening seizures. He’s gregarious, except that he has very little contact with people because people come with so much electrical baggage. Meanwhile, Moritz lives in Germany and wishes he could live in the woods like Ollie because then he wouldn’t have to deal with people’s stupidity and cruelty. Moritz was born without eyes or eyelids or eyebrows. You can imagine how that might make him a target for bullying at school. But Moritz has exceptional hearing. He can basically “see” everything (except for color) with echolocation. Oh, and he also has a pacemaker because he died once. If these two pen pals ever met, they would seriously harm one another.
While the unfortunate medical conditions make this book feel like a Fault in Our Stars or Everything, Everything, this book is very different because, well (I hope this isn’t a spoiler), it’s not a romance! The book is written as letters – which I’m not the biggest fan of – however, it did serve a purpose here as this is the only way Ollie can talk to Moritz. He can’t call him on a phone or facetime him, or even email. Those all require electricity. So, thankfully, the letter writing isn’t just a gimmick, but I still prefer to be right in the action, not hearing about it later. That being said, the book is well-written thanks to our main characters being well-educated and fans of language. Their vocabularies are varied and complex, but not in a pretentious way (well, maybe sometimes for Mo, but Ollie usually teases him about it). Ollie and Mo have their own voices and read as two very different characters. The writing was quite rich for YA and very enjoyable.
The book becomes stranger as it goes on, (is it sci-fi? Is it just a child’s recollection?) but it’s alluring because the boys’ budding friendship is so sweet and there is such feeling written into the characters.
Recommended for fans of:
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Every Day by David Levithan