That was extraordinary. ON COME ON! You knew I had to say that right?! But, honestly it was. I expected great things, because it sounds unique and feelsy and the cover is gorgeous (I’m shallow and don’t even deny it). And, yes, it delivered on my expectations. I learnt a lot about tuberculosis, got a little sniffly, and took copious photos because that gorgeous cover deserves to rule the world.
Basically it’s about two kids, Lane and Sadie, who go to Camp Latham to recover from tuberculosis. Humour, death, and pancakes ensue.
I really liked the writing! Like a lot. It was totally addictive and the voices were relatable and quirky.
Oh, and it’s funny. THE HUMOUR IS GOLD. It’s very self-deprecating (which is, in fact, my favourite kind) and the quips are funny and fast. Sure it’s a book about sickness and death, but they used jokes as a coping mechanism and it worked.
…which leads me to flail over…
THE CHARACTERS ARE ENTIRELY ADORABLE!! They’re all different and their dynamics are awesome. Plus they are flawed. GAWSH. Are they flawed. They’re insecure teenagers and facing death and making bad decisions and trying to cope — gah. I was so rooting for these sick adorable hooligans.
It’s dual narrated by Lane and Sadie. Which was fantastic to get both their points-of-view because they had such different personalities and outlooks. But let’s talk about ALL the characters, yes?
- LANE: He’s an utter workaholic. Everything in his life is FOCUSED, everything is PURPOSED. He’s always studying to get into The College Of Awesome. He never lives life, basically. And he’s totally sweet and nerdy and smart. I was quite a workaholic in school and my little sister totally is, so I quite related to Lane. Particularly his “how do I turn off and relax” quandary. ME TOO.
- SADIE: She’s spunky and brash and breaks the rules and doesn’t care. A total bright light in a room of grey. I liked Sadie. She’s very insecure and internalises conflict instead of talking it out, and, annoyingly, she sucks at communication. She makes herself into a burrito of sadness and marinates alone, basically.
- NICK: He’s Indian and, well, kind of an alcoholic. But I’ll talk more about that in a second. He’s the goofy, BFF of Sadie and HE LURVES HER. She doesn’t love him. Tragedy.
- MARINA: To be honest, as soon as I shut this book, I forgot her name. She was there but she wasn’t even there, you know? I honestly felt Marina was only there so Sadie wasn’t surrounded by boys. Her friendship with Sadie didn’t seem to run very deep. Marina’s African-American.
- CHARLIE: He was the skinny, sad, artistic, sickest one, so I was suspicious of him from the beginning. I mean, it’s a book about DYING and the author introduces the sickest character. I didn’t get very attached to him because a) he was barley around, and b) he looked like he was going to drop off so I kept my distance.
But we have to talk about the whole let’s-run-off-into-the-woods-and-get-hoplessly-drunk-because-heck-yeah-we’re-teens-and-yeah-we’re-seriously-sick-but-probably-invincible-so-let’s-live-while-we-can. Stupid. Utterly stupid. I get the whole “I’m invincible” mantra, and YES, probably most teens have it. (I did not.) But it still threw me because they’re at a camp designed to help them recuperate, but yet they risk their precarious health to drink?? The book touched on the “you need to live life” message, but getting drunk IS NOT LIVING. Stupid and selfish. I really didn’t understand why the characters did this AT ALL.
Okay, and the ending?!! WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE ENDING. I was expecting to be really hit in the feels. I was expecting death. And to be honest? It played out exactly as I predicted. When I started it, I picked which characters would die — and I was 100% right. I didn’t predict the “HOWS” right and it was still insanely sad and tragic and YEAH I KINDA AM A POTATO OF SADNESS RIGHT NOW. But, because I predicted it, I didn’t get stung with any intense emotions Although I am Vulcan. So tears are unusual for me anyhow.
Let’s talk a little about the deaths, yes?? DON’T OPEN THESE SPOILERS UNLESS YOU WANT ALL RUINED, DUH.
Ohhhh, the author’s note is a MUST READ. I love author’s notes in gernal, but this one just cemented my love for the book because a) the author is a bioethicist and has study all of this deeply, b) the strain of TB in the book is fake, but the symptoms/results are real so I learnt thingies, c) it originally started as a vampire book (!!) and turned into a unique, meltable contemporary. And the acknowledgments?! I’M CRYING. They were so epic. Robyn Schneider totally doesn’t thank Tumblr and Netflix for distracting her. I’m a writer, so this author just became 1000% relatable. And she also confesses she originally thought this book was a “pile of potato salad”. And that is adorable.
Anyway, I loved it and it was totally bittersweet and fantastic. I totally saw John Green in it (particularly Looking for Alaska for the boarding-school vibe and The Fault in Our Stars for the illness part. Mash those books together and VOILA. You have Extraordinary Means). I shall go away now and be extraordinarily sad and also maybe wave this book in my sister in the face until she reads it because it’s so good and I want to share.
WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE??? GO READ IT.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for the review-copy! Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider was published June, 2015.
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