EXTRAORDINARY MEANS

Extraordinary Means – Robyn Schneider

Delve into Extraordinary Means, a darkly funny story about inevitable death, first love, powerful friendships and a deadly disease. 

Lane is an overachieving student with his heart on Stanford. That is until he is uprooted and placed in Latham House, a secure sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Stripped from his old life, Lane has to get used to his senior year consumed of medication, constant surveillance and the looming dread of death. Part hospital, part boarding school, Latham is a confusing place for Lane, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than flunk French.

Lane encounters a girl he met a few years previously. Instead of the shy bullied girl he remembers, Sadie has completely transformed. At Latham, she is known as the sarcastic, confident and utterly fearless leader, who provides the other teens with alcohol and cigarettes. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, captivate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life.

Accepted by the group, Sadie shows him their secrets – how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors that monitor their organs.

But in a place where death is around the corner and with Lane and Sadie falling in love, disastrous events rip their tight group apart, with everything they love threatening to crash down.

Robyn Schneider has succeeded in creating a truly remarkable novel that resonates with readers of all ages.

The prose is beautifully written, and strikingly compelling from the first page. Her poetic writing style is emotionally overwhelming, life-affirming and utterly haunting, with her masterfully handling the dire situation of teenagers dying from tuberculosis. But what makes Extraordinary Means so dramatically different from YA books dealing with similar issues is Schneider’s perfect balance between sadness and her witty voice radiating through the pages and into reader’s hearts.

Robyn Schneider has succeeded in creating a truly remarkable novel that resonates with readers of all ages.

The prose is beautifully written, and strikingly compelling from the first page. Her poetic writing style is emotionally overwhelming, life-affirming and utterly haunting, with her masterfully handling the dire situation of teenagers dying from tuberculosis. But what makes Extraordinary Means so dramatically different from YA books dealing with similar issues is Schneider’s perfect balance between sadness and her witty voice radiating through the pages and into reader’s hearts.

Refreshingly, Schneider has been able to use the dual narration to her advantage, making both Lane and Sadie sound exactly like teenagers. This is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is overly populated with philosophical characters who are irritatingly inaccurate. This magnificent difference helps her reader gain an emotional connection to her characters in Extraordinary Means making their situation even more difficult to read about, but also incredibly gripping.

Friendship is at the heart of this book, and rightfully so. Each character is strong and beautifully explained in regards to their differences with the disease. Sadie is electric, the independent leader who ultimately takes charge of her fate in a touching way. Lane is a delight. His voice is spell-binding, with his nerdy personality leaking through the pages. Charlie is musical, hard-working and provides the book will some of its funniest moments. Nick is the best friend everyone wants, he’s the ball of fun but also desperately in love with a dying girl. Marina is the smart voice of reason, with her constant references to Harry Potter being a great addition. The friends merge together wonderfully, and really are what makes this book so unique and mesmerising.

The powerful message of this book is both gripping and heart shattering. Schneider illuminates disease through the eyes of these poignant teenagers, who are so used to death – as though, it is a sick routine at Latham. The focus on looming deaths is deafening, with the sense of foreboding being crushing, leaving the reader cautious with the turn of each page. Schneider’s focus on death in young adults makes Extraordinary Means an eye-opening read, a read that is dark, hilariously funny but almost too sad to handle.

It’s hard to find a fantastic YA book, a book that is so magnificently put together, it ignites a passion. A book that speaks to readers on so many different levels. A book that will have you breathlessly crying, wiping away angry and sad tears but also laughing out loud and begging for more. Extraordinary Means is the book YA fiction has been missing – every second you are without this book, you’re missing out. 

 

 

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