Have you ever finished a book that made you feel numb? Your head toyed with so much that you don't even know if your own mind is your own? You physically have to tell yourself that you haven't been brainwashed? (or have you?) All valid questions after finishing The Boundless Sublime. Cults, brainwashing and twists. This is what you get, when you open up The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson.
Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it's all her fault.
The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox - a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she's going through and he offers her a chance to feel peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Sublime - and Ruby can't stay away from him. So she is also drawn in to what she too late discovers is a terrifying secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.
Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever really an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Sublime?
A gripping YA novel about an ordinary girl who is unsuspectingly inducted into a secretive modern-day cult.
I read 'With Malice' the week before and it wasn't that amazing, just an average thriller book that didn't execute the "thriller" component. However, The Boundless Sublime hit the mark for me. We are first introduced to Ruby, who was a character I had mixed feelings about, mostly because I felt no connection to her, but that all changed gradually. I felt for her, for her loss. Ruby grew on me, even though at the beginning I wished she saw the big warning signs, like when the Cult leader said "We're not a cult"... I'm pretty sure that means, "Yeah, we're a cult, what you gonna do about it?". Ruby changed throughout the book and as she did, I grew to like her even more. Another character that's in the mix is Furicius AKA Fox, who's an actual fox - I mean not an actual fox, but... you know what I mean. He was like a baby experiencing the world for the first time in the body of a 17 year old boy, who I must admit, had pretty dreamy hair. The interactions the two characters first had were bizarre, but I guess it was because Fox had never experienced the real world before and didn't really know social cues, which made it weird.
In the middle of the book, I wasn't really interested in the story, because I didn't feel a connection with the story anymore. Ruby was pretty ignorant about the big "HEY THIS IS A CULT" signs but then again, she was trying to deal with her grief. The second half of the book though, was absolutely amazing. Sometimes I wonder what good we did in the world to deserve someone like Lili because her writing is just amazing and lovely to read. As I was getting closer to the ending my mind was literally blown. I felt everything Ruby felt. Everything she said was reasonable, that I was even scared for Ruby, scared that she'd never be free of the Cult, of Zosimon. In reference to Zosimon, Daddy has literally become a dirty word in my mouth now. (You'll understand when you read the book) I don't think I can ever read, say or hear that word without associating it with the most creepiest fictional character I've read (so far). I can't even look at bottled water the same again. I liked the 'fantasy' element Zosimon brought to the table. It was really fascinating and I was hoping that he really was a all powerful being.
The plot twist/s were startling, I felt ill to my stomach. I wanted Ruby to run, but she couldn't run anywhere because no one could be trusted. The process of her being brain washed too was frightening and I was on edge. The way her mind worked after being brain washed was so interesting to read about, but also so terrifyingly realistic, that I don't even think I could come back from it. After realising how delusional she was and seeing how much 'Ruby' was coming back to the surface, I was rooting for her to save herself.
A character I wish we had more of was Minah. She was a great character, one that I'd immediately gravitate towards (if she were real). Her passion and thoughts about art are pretty gruesome, but it's Minah and she rocks it. Ruby and Minah were Peanut Butter and Jelly. They really complimented each other. Minah with her art and Ruby with her piano. I really enjoyed Ruby's musical talents being mentioned throughout The Boundless Sublime. Also something to note, Lili mentions periods and I THANK HER FOR THAT. I was really happy that she explained Ruby's period situation in the book. I wrote a discussion about periods in books a while ago, so this really made me happy. (You can check the post out here)
The last pages of The Boundless Sublime were devastating, terrifying, twisted and sickening. The epilogue also leaves the reader with a really realistic ending. I really adored this novel, it shook me to my core. I couldn't even sleep after finishing it, my mind was racing with endless thoughts on how I would have dealt with complications and problems Ruby had to deal with. Lili has written a marvellous novel, one I'd recommend to all my readers.
The Boundless Sublime was brilliant. I hope it one day becomes a movie because the way the plot plays out would be exceptional for mass consumption on the big screen. I have given The Boundless Sublime the benefit of the doubt and rated it 3.5 stars out of 5, pushing aside the facts that I was uninterested in the middle of the book because the second half of the book really blew me away.
Thanks Allen & Unwin for the review copy, I really enjoyed this book.