Published by Simon and Schuster UK on June 4, 2015
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 disease. This 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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