Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Title: Extraordinary Means
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publication: May 26th 2015, Katherine Tegen Books
Format: e-ARC, 336 pages
Source: Edelweiss (Thanks to the publisher!)         

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.

Misfit Review:

To be honest, I don't know what words to say. I always do. At times when I feel entirely overwhelmed with a book, I just want to sit and stare at the corner of my room, cry and stalk the author and ask for guidance, forgiveness coz I have screamed at the book many times, and just ask, WHY???? WHY YOU DO DIS?
I really am just trying to make everything seem funny right now, but really as I type this review, my heart is aching. Extraordinary Means is a whirlwind of happiness and grief that at some point, you wish that your heart was stronger so you won't have to suffer the casualties of the whirlwind. Side effects include: ugly crying in the bathroom.

The story is told in two points of view, Lane and Sadie's, who both just want a bit of break from the troubles of tuberculosis. Quarantined at Latham House, Lane finds it hard to fit in with any group. He just wants to get out of Latham House and go to college and be with his girlfriend. But the so-called life that he wants crumbles slowly as he lets tuberculosis eat up his life bit by bit. Sadie, on the other hand, has found normal in Latham House, with her eccentric friends Nick, Marina and Charlie. She finds out that Lane is around, the Lane she hates from summer camp. But a misunderstanding is cleared and the two of them become fast friends. Lane suddenly becomes part of Sadie's group and they try to spend each day, normally but with risks posed with their every move. 

Right now, I find it hard to find words for this beautiful novel. But I will try. It's not your typical romantic YA novel that drowns itself in sadness completely. It celebrates having fun, spending time with friends and falling in love in midst of sickness. I really love the dynamic between the characters. Lane and Sadie show that it's okay to fall in love even when it's scary. Nick, Marina and Charlie make it possible to believe that it is okay to have friends and you wish they were yours. But hidden within all these, is the fear that one day, death is gonna swoop in.

I love the way that the novel is not afraid to accept the fact that death is inevitable but then it is laced with fear. And then there's a sliver of hope for life, brought about by the drug presented in the novel. But the fear for death doesn't stop the characters from being spunky, out there and honest.

And with the fun that the characters bring along, and yes, the fear of death, sadness, along with that fear, is as inevitable. And as a reader, I felt every single stab of pain provided by the book. Like with what Sadie said, "I think I'm actually made of pain.". Yes, Sadie, yes. How dare you?

I don't exactly want to compare this novel to TFIOS, but it does seem to provide the same kind of feelings. With Extraordinary Means however, Robyn was able to stylize her writing in a more contemporary and less metaphorical way, of course to separate herself from John, if people compare. She also made it modern and something teenagers and people who recognize pop culture references, appreciate. Hogwarts was mentioned a number of times. *waves Gryffindor flag*.

Extraordinary Means is a read that will leave you crying but also will fill you up with life's teachings, will make you believe in love in time of illness, and make you understand that people who are suffering should not be shunned from the world, because they are as normal as we are. Definitely read this novel, or I will hunt you down.

About The Author:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Youtube

Robyn Schneider is a writer, actor, and online personality who misspent her youth in a town coincidentally similar to Eastwood. Robyn is a graduate of Columbia University, where she studied creative writing, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where she studied medical ethics. She is also the author of the middle grade Knightley Academy books, written as Violet Haberdasher. She lives in Los Angeles, California, but also on the internet. 

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