Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review: Extraordinary Means

Extraordinary MeansAuthor: Robyn Schneider
Series: Standalone
Released: May 26th 2015
Publisher: K. Tegen Books
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider is a well-written contemporary young adult novel that will surely find its place in the hearts of many. It’s a deliberate tear-jerker perfect for those who are chasing a few moments of catharsis.

When a book is repeatedly described as the love child of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, the reader pretty much knows what to expect going in. What’s more, an experienced reader can safely predict the beginning, the middle and the end. The similarities between the three books are undeniable. Schneider rarely strays far from John Green’s proven model, and even when she does, it’s for something that’s hardly important.

Robyn Schneider, thy name is not John Green. But it might as well be.

So does this book bring anything at all to the table, and if yes, what? Well, for one, there’s the quality of Robyn Schneider’s writing, which is excellent. She does sometimes push the profound a bit too far – I’ve found a few passages that were surely meant to be deep, but that made me laugh instead, and not in a good way. But those were rare, and for the most part, Schneider’s style was gentle and elegant.

As far as characters go, they were well thought-through, but they didn’t really jump out for me like they should have. There were some good sides, though. Although she’s a bit of a rebel, Sadie is a far cry from a manic pixie dream girl, which I actually liked. The simplicity of her character made her seem more real and accessible. Lane is a bit more complex, an overachiever, too serious for his actual age and seemingly socially awkward, at least at first. There’s a bit of history between him and Sadie, an old misunderstanding he was unaware of, but the brief past encounter makes their romance seem less abrupt and far more realistic.

The incurable strain of tuberculosis was a nice touch and a great way to isolate characters. The purpose of this disease and Latham was obvious, but still wonderfully done. For me, that was what made Extraordinary Means worth reading, not the potential heartbreak and not even the romance. But I’m sure both will appeal to so many other readers and with good reason. This is already Schneider’s second novel, but she’s already a force to be reckoned with. I just wish she would find her own, wholly original path.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. Not gonna lie, if a book is a the love child of TFioS and Looking for Alaska, I probably would stay far away from it. Lol. Hello, angst.

  2. I haven't read about this topic yet but the writing sounds really well done and intense. It's always interesting to have a book like that.

  3. I don't think this is the book for me Maja! I don't much care for tear-jerkers, I'm an HEA kind of girl. Which is probably why I haven't read John Green despite his popularity. I just don't handle books about illness and loss well, too much realism for me:)

  4. Oh dear. I really really don't like John Green's books. The idea that someone would copy him whether I liked his stuff or not isn't good. Still, it sounds like an interesting read.

  5. I think when I see it resembling the like of Johm Green I tend to stray away from it as I'm not really I the blood for such a tear jerker at the moment for sure. I'm in the mood for fluffy and romantic contemporaries. I did receive this for review. So maybe I might give it a go in the future. Great review. :)

  6. Ehh... I could leave this one. I am not a big fan of John Green, I know gasp? I have read books like this and I am tired of drama, death and angst.

  7. I've only read FiOS but, I did love it. I don't know, I'm not sure how I feel about this being their love child. I think I like a bit more originality in my reads lately but this does sound like it was a good read for you.

  8. I'll probably end up reading it, because I'm a glutton for punishment and actually enjoy books that tear my chest open and crush my heart into pulp. Yep, that's me :)

  9. Hm... I haven't read those other novels b/c of the tears but I did see Fault's movie (damn me getting into that kind of movie!). I do think I'll pass but will keep it in mind when I need to clear out my sinuses. ;)

  10. I'm a huge fangirl of John Green, but this one just doesn't grab my attention. Glad you enjoyed it for the most part despite your issues.

  11. This looks like a book that could go either way with me. Lord knows that I could use some more standalones on my TBR. Thanks for the review.

  12. I've never read any of John Green's books so if I had, it's possible I wouldn't like this as much because of the author's lack of originality. But since I haven't and don't mind tear-jerker novels, I'm going to add this to my wishlist and consider giving it a try in the future.

  13. I must confess that being called a mix of two John Green novels wouldn't be the best recommendation for me, but this book still sounds interesting enough!
    Great review Maja!

  14. I read this one last month and have to agree with you. Schneider's writing is definitely comparable to Green's, but it's still really beautiful. For me, the characters didn't stand out too much for me, and I couldn't connect with them that much. I actually saw Sadie as exactly a manic pixie dream girl, and liked Lane better because he was more relatable (perhaps because of all of those AP classes, aha!). I didn't actually think the TB aspect was believable, which is why I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I could have. But thanks for sharing your thoughts, Maja!

  15. I've been a bit out of the loop as to what books bloggers are enjoying but I spotted this one on Goodreads and have wanted to read it ever since. I am the type of reader who loves a tear-jerker so I think I'll have to turn to Extraordinary Means when I'm in the mood for a heavier book. I'm intrigued by Schneider's writing which you have said is 'excellent' and if she's been compared to John Green, I'm all the more curious to check out her books. The characters seem very eccentric, as does the premise, and I'm eager to see how Sadie and Lane balance each other with their personalities too. Thanks for the review, Maja!


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