Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
Publication Date: May 26th 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 336
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover & ebook
Synopsis from Goodreads:
From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.
At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.
There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.
But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.
Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.
Hello! Today I have a review on Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider. This is one of the books that caught my eye after I’ve seen it floating around in the blogosphere (that even has a tag made from it as well) and so I have been quite interested in reading it for quite some time. I definitely see what the hype is all about; I enjoyed reading this book so much!
I’ve read several reviews in which this book is compared to both TFIOS (for the sickness aspect) and Looking For Alaska (for the boarding school aspect), and in some ways it’s true, but in the end, Extraordinary Means was its own story which was full of bright characters and a compelling writing style. Not to mention its idea is so unique to me; I’ve hardly ever read a book following characters with tuberculosis, and I sure loved learning about this fresh concept!
Meet Lane, the definition of a workaholic. As a result of his overachieving habits, he’s not really living his life, until he ends up in Latham House, a boarding school and sanitarium for students with tuberculosis. There he meets the wild and enticing Sadie, and her friends, who are the resident trouble-makers and most care-free of the Latham students. As Lane starts to become a part of their wild adventures, he’s introduced to a whole new world—but faces so many consequences at the same time.
Okay, I won’t lie, I did find the book to be kind of predictable at times, but, it was still pretty extraordinary. (See what I did there? :P) Why? Because I loved reading the story. Tuberculosis is something I’ve hardly ever read about, and I love how it was approached in this novel. Most of the time we see cancer books and the like, so this was different than cancer books in the sense that, of course, it’s not talking about cancer. The author, being a bioethicist, really knew what she was talking about before writing this, and that was much appreciated.
But the thing I loved most was the fact that this wasn’t simply a story telling readers what it’s like to be sick with tuberculosis. The plot had so much more meaning to it, of second chances, and the hope that someday you’ll be able to figure out how you belong. The journey I took from the start of this book to the finish really got those points across, and gave me a heartwarming and memorable reading experience in the process. There was lots of humor, a satisfying story-line, and definitely a romance to keep your heart in the game.
Before I move on to the characters, one thing I feel is worth mentioning is the romance. While it is definitely sweet and heart-warming, I have to say the impending gloom and doom thing and the expectation that one of them will die kind of prevented me from fully being involved with the romance as I might’ve been in another situation. That being said, I really loved seeing the romance unfold nonetheless!
“One thing I’ve realized about new places is that they’re like jeans. Sure, they might fit, but they’re not comfortable. They need time to be broken in.”
Such a true quote, from the one and only Lane Rosen. I loved Lane’s character a lot, not only because he was totally adorable (although that admittedly plays a factor in this) but also because I found him to be realistic and relatable. He’s always been an overachiever, and that feeling? That feeling of having to work and be the best (for school, mostly)? I definitely understand that. Arriving at Latham House, he realizes how he wasn’t truly living, and as he spends more time with Sadie and her friends, he finally sees how he can start to do so. His development was great to read.
I also really liked Sadie‘s character, if only because she was spunky and full of life, you know? Not that she was a whole bundle of sunshine or something, just that she had a very wild kind of quality to her. But there was more to her than what she seemed. I mean, I have to admit, I wasn’t completely sold on her character at first; she was a stubborn person determined to hold a grudge about something that happened years ago, and I just couldn’t sympathize. But as I got to know her, I discovered it was one of her flaws—a flaw I came to accept. She’s very insecure and often makes the mistake of not talking things out with others, which can cause problems. I understood her though, and really started to root for her. She wasn’t by any means perfect, but that’s exactly why she was perfect.
The secondary characters were also great Except for a select few, almost all of the other characters felt memorable, especially Sadie’s friends, since they are the people who are with Sadie and Lane the most. So, for one we have Nick, the goofy friend of Sadie’s who also happens to be in love with Sadie. (The feelings aren’t mutual.) I wasn’t his biggest fan, but he was alright and I was okay with his presence for the most part. Marina, Sadie’s girl friend, didn’t have that much of an impact on me or the story, to be honest, but again, she was okay. Charlie, the last of their group, and the sickest, was more of a mysterious character, and I didn’t expect to enjoy his character, but I did. He seemed really interesting, and I wouldn’t have minded knowing more about him.
I fell in love with the writing in this book! The novel was written in dual-perspective from both Lane and Sadie, which made for some awesome insight into their characters. They both have such different ways of thinking and approaching things, it was interesting to see into the thoughts of both characters.
“There’s difference between being dead and dying. We’re all dying. Some of us die for ninety years, and some of us die for nineteen. But each morning everyone on this planet wakes up one day closer to their death. Everyone. So living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, if you think about it.”
Another thing is that although this story may have had an overall John Green feel to it, I felt the writing style for this novel was much more authentic than, say, The Fault in Our Stars. I have nothing against John Green; he’s a great author, but I felt this book captured the voice of intelligent teenagers more smoothly and realistically, to be honest. Maybe it’s just the mood I was in while reading or something, but JG’s TFIOS writing style and dialogue and such felt pretentious and it kind of felt a bit out of place at times. For this novel, I felt differently, because the dialogue and writing felt much more natural and I was able to relate to it in a way I found I just couldn’t with TFIOS (before you bring out the knives and forks; I enjoyed TFIOS!! I just still had some issues with it).
Extraordinary Means also had wonderful thought-provoking quotes which were great, and really reflected the characters, with a bonus of the characters not sounding overly beyond their years. I simply flew through everything, like second skin, really, while relishing the great passages of humor and quotes that I found on the way.
“Being temporary doesn’t make something matter any less, because the point isn’t for how long, the point is that it happened.”
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider is a book that you should definitely not miss if you’re either: a) a John Green fan, b) looking for a contemporary read addressing something unique, c) prone to liking bitter-sweet romances, or d) searching for an emotional read. While there are indeed similarities between this book and John Green’s TFIOS and LFA, I definitely still recommend giving this book a try, if only to see for yourself whether this book is good or not. After all, it’s all a matter of personal preference! I myself really enjoyed the storyline, along with the great characters. Sadie and Lane were such opposites, yet they went together so well and I really rooted for both of them. I loved how natural the writing and dialogue was in this book, not to mention the way I flew through this book because of it! All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it for those of you who enjoy contemporary novels!
Definitely try to gobble this up! It’s quite tasty.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Are you planning on reading it? Whatever your thoughts may be, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. ❤