Author: Leah Thomas
Genre: contemporary, science fiction
Series: Because You'll Never Meet Me #2
Published: expected February 14 2017
Source: ARC from publishers for review
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.The second in Leah Thomas' light scifi/contemporary YA series, Nowhere Near You is a fantastic return to form and to the complex, odd, fascinating lives of Ollie, Moritz, and their various supporting characters, both the old and the newly introduced. The boisterous and irrepressible Ollie has had his world changed drastically since the events of Because You'll Never Meet Me and so too has the more reticent and recalcitrant Moritz. Both teens are still different, trying to adapt to a world not suited to them, and their long-distance friendship is tested and strengthened as the boys mature and form other emotional bonds in their travels. Their epistolary friendship is once again rendered in the various letters between them, showcasing how they complement and contrast with one another.
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?
The science fiction element introduced rather late in book one feels more natural here, now that it's given time to evolve and integrate with the characters themselves. Nowhere Near You is definitely a light science fiction story -- there's not much more detail given about why the various Blunderkids are the way they are (like... was Molly born with two mouths? Was it surgery? How?) other than what was said previously in Because You'll Never Meet Me. Despite the lack of concrete information, the various abilities/attributes mentioned or shown by the secondary characters are interesting, often read as real-world allusions (Molly's second mouth being reminiscent of a teen girl's internal self-doubt, etc.) and unique to this author/series. I was hoping for more conclusions or finality along the lines of the other Blunderkids, but Thomas left most open-ended.
The letters between Ollie and Moritz are vibrant, visual, and burst with the individual voices of the two main characters. Ollie still has a way of practically leaping off the page, but his larger-than-life personality
Nowhere Near You is a contemplative contemporary novel. It can feel a tad over-extended at times in its 400 pages, but the last chapter is so emotionally rewarding it's hard to notice or really care. Most of the storylines are left rather open-ended, but despite that it's such a satisfying, hits-on-all-feels novel. The memorable, unique characters in these two books are realistic despite their unusual abilities. From Ollie to Moritz to Owen to Fieke -- they are impossible to not care about. This is a series that will creep up on you.