Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 4th, 2015
Reviewed by Hayley Anderton
Warning: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider will break your heart. Guaranteed. The moment it broke mine was when I decided this book went from good to excellent. For me, if a book is good enough to hurt you, that’s when you know it’s done it’s job. If you don’t care about the characters, and the story, then what’s the point? But I did care about the characters in Extraordinary Means. I cared a lot.
I got this book as a Christmas present, and I expected it to be another wannabe The Fault in Our Stars. But I was very pleasantly surprised. Extraordinary Means follows the story of Lane, who is sent to a house where kids with tuberculosis go to heal. Since it’s contagious, they’re unable to have visitors, or leave the grounds, in case they infect anybody. To Lane, Latham House seems like a nightmare. But then he meets Sadie, a girl he once went to summer camp with, and he soon becomes good friends with her and her wacky pals. And these kids aren’t interested in sitting around, waiting to get better – they’re happy to get in trouble and bend the rules if it means their lives will be better.
I expected this book to be pretty predictable when I picked it up, but it didn’t turn out that way. Unlike The Fault in Our Stars, this book is more about the rebellion. The characters in this book are limited in so many ways – they’re unable to do basic things, like exercising for long periods or even skipping breakfast. But they still choose to fight it. They do everything they’re not supposed to as a big f-you to the disease that’s trying to ruin their lives, and I love that. It just made me get so attached to the characters, because they’re so strong despite their limitations.
Since the book is about illness, of course the characters suffer, and when you love characters as much as these ones, it’s hard to handle. I was totally in love with the both of the main protagonists, Sadie and Lane, but Charlie was my favourite. There were some moments when he genuinely made me laugh out loud, and others when he broke my heart. Sadie was great because she took the “bad boy” trope and made it ten times better. Mostly because despite her urges to break the rules and cause trouble, she’s actually a lovely girl. She’s never cruel to anyone – she gets the balance of cheeky and friendly right. Paired with Lane, the good boy who is desperate for good grades, they’re a perfect couple. I don’t often like couples in Young Adult books – I could never really get behind Edward and Bella, or Tris and Four, and I definitely didn’t like Miles and Alaska together. But I did like Lane and Sadie. They just clicked for me. In fact, everything in this book clicks. The storyline’s original, the characters are original, and the humour is hilariously original. That’s what makes it so special.