Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider Review: Conflicted Emotions

July 6, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider Review: Conflicted EmotionsExtraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
Published by Simon and Schuster UK on June 4, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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A bitter-sweet, coming-of-age novel that's perfect for fans of John Green and Stephen Chbosky.

When he's sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick teens, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.
But when he meets Sadie and her friends - a group of eccentric troublemakers - he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn't have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure.

Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about true friendships, ill-fated love and the rare miracle of second chances.

This is a sad book. Not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. One kid with tuberculosis is sad enough, but you’ve got a whole facility filled when them in Extraordinary Means. This is not the type of book you’d pick up if you’re feeling down, but for those who can accept it, it offers an interesting concept for kids who just want to find themselves.

With total drug resistant TB, these kids have been quarantined from the rest of the world until a cure is discovered. Sadie chooses to live her life with a resigned reluctance and internalised anger. Lane lives with ambition and hope for the future. I’m glad these two were able to make a difference in each other’s lives, but at the end of the day, you never know how long it’s going to be.

Grief is a strange thing. I’d thought, for the longest time, that being at Latham was a constant grieving for an answer. Live or die. Return home or succumb. But it wasn’t grief at all. It was fear. – Lane

I enjoyed Lane’s point of view, it felt authentic and honest, with his reluctance to accept that he’s sick and throwing everything into his studies for college. But his fixation on the future has taken away his ability to focus on the present, which is something that Sadie pulls out of him. Sadie is like his bright light, and together they are really sweet.

Sadie was a character I had difficulty warming to. She’s dry, sarcastic and holds grudges against people who hurt her. She’s quite bitchy and cold towards Lane at first because of a misunderstanding she had in the past, but thankfully she gets better as the book goes on. I could see how she had resigned herself to her fate, was therefore rebellious and really didn’t care about consequences, even if she managed to hurt others in the process. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t realistic.

A year ago, it had seemed like a miracle when the lesions on my lungs stopped forming and my blood tests evened out, but you can even get tired of miracles when they’re not quite big enough to cure you. – Sadie 

With Robyn Schneiders amazing characterisation and snarktastic writing, why only three stars? Let me explain.

So these teenagers are cooped up in a facility right, where they’re fed healthy food, are cut off from the world and are half-heartedly going to school. What do they do with themselves? Aside from hacking into the internet and the odd movie night here and there, Sadie and her friends make fun for themselves.

And this is the conflict that I can’t get my head around. These highly contagious kids, sneak out of the facility and go to town. They go to Starbucks, they hang around the park, and they visit shops and interact with people. They don’t have just any illness, they have an incurable diseaseThis is how the zombie apocalypse starts people, a bunch of stupid infected people sneaking out and putting the entire population at risk from a worldwide epidemic because they couldn’t pull their heads together. And of course, because they’ve snuck out once and gotten away with it, they’re going to keep and doing it again and again.

I can’t think of anything more horrifying than that.

But on the other hand, you have to feel for these kids. They feel fine, and they don’t think it’s a big deal. They just want to have a normal life, no more medical bands, no more getting treated like kid gloves, no more doctor’s appointments and check ups.

“So basically, I’m saying the glass is half-empty of TB, and you’re saying the glass is half-full of it?” he asked. That was a clever way to put it. – Sadie

Yeah that’s why you have a facility with relative freedom to do whatever you want.

The author’s note opened my mind on the topic. It gave me a wider appreciation for the author’s background and passion in writing from the perspective of people with diseases. But we have My Sister’s Keeper, The Fault in Our Stars, just not a YA book about TB. I guess it raised awareness about this silent disease of the young.


Despite my earlier ranting, I enjoyed Extraordinary Means, I really did. Robyn Schneider has a knack for writing really real characters, whether they’re likable or not. Her humour and ease of writing is fantastic. But because of the reasons stated above, this just wasn’t the book for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me this book for review.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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57 responses to “Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider Review: Conflicted Emotions

  1. Such an emotional book! I I was totally in love with the both of the main protagonists, Sadie and Lane, but Charlie was my favourite. They do everything to ruin their lives, and I love that.

  2. Pearl Angeli

    I always see this book and I admit I'm tempted to buy and read it. But I'm afraid because of mixed reviews. 🙂

  3. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    Oh wow, I didn't pick up the sadness of the book from the summary at all. I probably would've been depressed as hell if I didn't have a warning beforehand.

    I don't like the sound of them selfishly putting people at risk. That's scary…

    But you enjoyed the book despite that, and that cover is really calling my name so I'll maybe give this a try 🙂 Great review! <3

    • Yeah, I didn't pick that up either. The writing makes it not as depressing, but the idea of it really is. Thanks Marianne! let us know what you think of it when you read it.

  4. I totally agree with you! There were parts of it that I did really enjoy- I thought the characters were incredibly well developed, and the TB storyline definitely drew me in. But then I agree about the weirdness with them going into the town on one hand, and on the other, teenagers kind of do worry about their own needs a lot so… I don't know, I am conflicted. The downside for me was that I kind of felt like I knew what was going to happen all along, so I didn't really have much emotion for when stuff actually DID happen.
    My recent post You Love It? Then Make ME Love It!

    • That's true, yeah I can see it from their point of view but it's still not a good enough excuse to risk everyone else.

    • Oh my gosh Kimba, you poor thing 🙁 I'm quite susceptible too, but taking a probiotic every day has seemed to help me. It's freaky isn't it?

  5. I NEED THIS BOOK. I sort of watched the book trailer, and it's SO FLUFFY AND CUTE. I already have a feeling that it would be sad because the characters have tuberculosis 🙁 Sadness. I'm so glad to hear you really enjoyed the book, Jeann, it makes me more excited for this one! But I do find it weird that the characters with TB were walking around INFECTED in public. Heck, if that happened in real life, I'd never step a toe out of my room. EVER. O___O

    Beautiful review!!!
    My recent post ARC: Queen of Tomorrow by Sherry D. Ficklin

    • Glad to hear you love the sound of it! It is quite sad with the characters and their TB, but the characters are charming.

  6. readerswonderland

    Yeah I can't quite wrap my mind around the fact that these people are going out as sick as they are, either, and this is the first I have heard of this one. I mean, I feel bad for them because they don't have much to do but I feel like they need to have a tad bit more consideration because a huge epidemic could start this way.
    My recent post Mini Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

  7. danielleisbusyreading

    Great review! I'm glad you were mostly able to enjoy it.
    I know a lot of people adore this author's books, but I'm just not sure they're for me. I'm definitely a contemporary girl, but I'm more of a romance junkie than anything.
    I think the fact that the kids kept sneaking out would freak me out too!

  8. Zoe

    I completely agree with this 100% Jeann. This wasn't a bad book by any means, but I don't think it necessarily brought anything new or original to the YA contemporary genre either, you know? Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <33

  9. I absolutely love Robyn Schnieders writing and she has a knack for creating quite amazing characters but the fact that kids acted so childish and sneaked away from Lanthom House while having in INCURABLE DISEASE really ticked me off. I mean, I understood where they were coming from, and I found myself sympathizing for them, but maybe it's just me getting older and my crankiness rater going up a notch but I could not for the life of me just let it go. Here we had character who were described as being super intelligent and wise beyond their years but like you said, THIS IS HOW THE ZOMBIE APOCLYPSE HAPPENS PEOPLE!

    • I know, her writing is fantastic, and her characters wonderfully real. But yes, I can kind of relate about being cranky about that sort of stuff lol!

  10. I found that the ending of the book was a bit predictable as well… But I really liked Lane so he kind of redeemed it for me 🙂 But yeah – why would you risk the chance of infecting someone?? LIKE HOW DOES THAT SOUND LIKE A GOOD IDEA??
    My recent post The Thousand Lives Turns Two!

    • Yeah, I did like Lane because he seemed to have his head screwed on…except for when he snuck out 😛

  11. Naban

    The sneaking out part is just, whaaaat? I don't know if I can get past that. I've seen this book being compared to TFIOS although it might just be the illness aspect, but I'm still not sure if I'll quite enjoy it. Nevertheless I shall move this up my TBR, I love myself some good realistic characters. And lovely review!

    • Yeah, I just totally couldn't get it Aimee. It was shocking to me lol, especially when it wasn't only once. But multiple times.

  12. Shannelle C.

    I didn't enjoy The Beginning of Everything, and while I love the cover for this one (MINT), I just don't want to pick it up at all. Books with diseases aren't as enjoyable for me anymore.

    • I love Mint covers as well! Yeah, there's a lot of them out there these days, with a similar sort of message behind it.

  13. EEEEEK. I do NOT like the idea of a bunch of kids who have an incurable contagious disease sneaking out of the facility…..

    That *is* how zombie apocalypses get started.

    I am glad though that aside from that (kiind of major) tidbit, you liked the novel.

    I am still not sure I could get over the selfishness of putting the entire human population in danger for the funsies……

    Lovely review, Jeann!! <3
    My recent post Top 5 Underhyped Books on My Summer and Fall TBR

  14. Extraordinary Means definitely sounds like the kind of story I'd enjoy, Jeann! And it's true that with all the medicine we have nowadays, some illnesses we thought were more or less extinct are coming back with a vengeance!
    Definitely adding this to my TBR, also because I worked in an NGO where finding better ways to find out if a patient did indeed have TB, it will be interesting to me from that point of view as well.
    My recent post Teaser Tuesday #54: Devil’s Punch

  15. I had the same thoughts too Jeann, but I came to the conclusion that those who didn't feel all that sick, probably didn't really have a grasp on how ill they were, and in turn could have spread it to others. Probably a bit of not wanting to face that they are actually ill more likely, I wish that had of been explored a bit too. I really loved this one though and teared up quite a bit. I liked that it was more than 'sick lit' and the reader knew what they were getting themselves into. But that underlying hope and acceptance really hit me in the feels. Sorry you couldn't have connected with this one a little more Jeann, but wonderful review nonetheless <3
    My recent post Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas – Worldwide Blog Tour

  16. Yeah, I would take issue with the kids sneaking out and exposing a larger population to TB too Jeann! It's like the woman who was supposed to be confined to her house for 21 days until she was cleared of any possibility of Ebola taking a bike ride through the park as a way to stick it to the government for daring to tell her what to do. Are you kidding me? YOU COULD HAVE EOBLA! Unbelievable. I so love the cover of this one though, it's gorgeously relevant:)
    My recent post Lou Anders + The Thrones &amp; Bones Series

    • Oh gosh, I mean you've gotta feel for them being trapped against their will but it's not as if it's that horrible.

    • Yeah, the fact that they consistently do it just makes me so uncomfortable. If you do read it, let us know what you think!

  17. thebigfatf

    I heard that this book was like TFIOS but I hate books being compared to that one because it just isn't fair to the book itself.
    Lovely review but….depressing? Jeez, I don't know of I'll be able to survive it. A whole home full of teens with TB is going to send me bawling like me reading and watching Harry Potter Deathly Hallows (like yesterday.)
    Thanks for another book on the tbr, Jeann!
    My recent post MAY/JUNE PLAYLIST

    • I dunno, just because they both have a terminal illness and love interests who are sick? Yeah, it's pretty depressing. No problems Faith!

  18. OMG YES THAT'S HOW I FELT TOO. Perfect example with the zombie apocalypse comparison too. *nods* Ergh. I felt super bad for that person at the end who maybe got it from them. Like I felt his rage was justified. :O SO THAT WAS AWKWARD AND AWFUL TOO. Aghh. The drinking also destroyed it for me. but still, I did quite like the book. It totally reminded me of John Green!

    • Yeah, me being a massive zombie buff it's the first thing that came to mind lol. Oh my gosh, I was raging so hard when he came out. I was like LOOK WHAT YOU DID!

  19. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    First off the cover of this is fabulous. Second I totally see your point with them being out and about and how horrible that is. This is still one I want to get to though.
    My recent post Review ~ At the Water’s Edge

  20. I like that the characterization was done so well, Jeann, but ugh I'd be really annoyed with these kids for sneaking out, knowing well that they are putting so many other people at risk!! How selfish and thoughtless! I think that would really dampen my enjoyment of the novel. It's sad because I did enjoy her debut novel. I'm glad that you liked parts of it though, Jeann.
    Wonderful review!
    My recent post Blog Tour Stop: Once and Again by Elisabeth Barrett

    • Absolutely, it was absolutely selfish, just because they couldn't stand being cooped up in a facility! It really did dampen it for me. Thanks Nick!