Book Review · Contemporary · YA Fiction

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider: Book Review

23149128At 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.

Extraordinary Means is a young adult contemporary fiction that revolves around the question: What if tuberculosis (Total Drug Resistant Tuberculosis; TDR-TB) made a comeback in modern day, with it being totally resistant to the drugs we’ve developed to prevent and cure it?

There’s a fair share of YA contemporary out there that revolve around illnesses, but Extraordinary Means is by far the most original. It follows Lane and Sadie’s time at the sanatorium, Latham House, that they’re quarantined in. With both of their points of views being shared, we learn how they deal with their TDR-TB at Latham. Seeing the way Lane and Sadie- along with their group of unlikely and hilarious friends- navigate their lives makes it all the more interesting and fun.

Extraordinary Means was full of humor and wit throughout that offset the actual severity of TDR-TB. It’s humor was great-dark, but great. I’ll have to pick up another one of Robyn’s works if they’re going to amuse me like this.

I loved the originality Robyn Schneider bought into this book, the very concept of TB being an epidemic in out modern world is so absurd (or is it?) that the construction of the world she created was eerily realistic. I thoroughly enjoyed the normalcy maintained throughout the plot’s development. The characters were teenagers that we all can relate too. I cannot stand the trope in where teens in YA fiction completely change themselves to fit their diagnosis in such an unrealistic way. The fact that the Latham kids had a life-threatening illness didn’t stop them from being teenagers, and that was a relieving thing to read.

I’ve got to say though, the ending of the book startled me. I wasn’t expecting the story to conclude like that at all. A real shocker, honestly. It’s not that the ending was rushed or badly written, it was just really unexpected and ironic- at least for me.


Last review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Until next time!


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