Friday, May 22, 2015

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
Release Date - May 26, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 448 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
The thought of how a life altering illness would impact not just myself, but my family was something I had never deeply considered. I am blessed that it's not something I've had to face or live through. This novel makes you ponder that question. Extraordinary Means is a deeply thought provoking, bittersweet story about love, life, and what we want to leave behind. Robyn Schneider once again grabs your heart with her characters and proves she's an up and coming voice in contemporary fiction.

Fans of Robyn Schneider's previous novel will want to pick this one up immediately. All of the elements you loved about it are evident here. The heart, and humour she displayed in her debut novel is more than evident in this one. Her strength is writing characters, and she's created some memorable ones here. The group of friends Lane makes in Latham House are so vivid, some multi-dimensional that they effortlessly pull you into their world. A world of sadness, illness, but also fun, friendship and laughter. Caring about all of these characters is easy, and having you care about all of them equally is no easy task to accomplish. Robyn accomplishes that easily.

The notion of having this ever present ticking clock is what creates the tension in the story. Death is a force, something that lingers just enough to remind you of it's presence. There is a tinge of bittersweetness that encompasses the entire novel because it's always on your mind that any of these characters could die. It makes every moment they share, every single second they have of happiness, shine all the more brightly.

The medical component of this story is supremely well done. The research the author did, and the fact that this uses one of her University degrees, shows in every single aspect of the illness. The treatment the patients undergo, the reality of the illness, and the consequences. Once known as consumption, there was a tragic beauty surrounding the illness, and Robyn strips that away to the underlying truth. Also pitch perfect were the reactions of those outside Latham House. The cruel way in which they are treated and the fear and panic misunderstandings can cause.

The crucial element of this story however is hope. The novel could be melodramatic and take itself too seriously, but instead the author has interlaced everything with hope. It's the brightness that the reader holds on to, even the darkest parts of this story. The fact that hope is still there, even in the face of this illness, is what gives this story it's heart, and it's characters life. Their hope allows the humour of the novel to not be overshadowed by the rest and the novel is all the better for it.

This is a novel about truly living rather than just existing and the various ways we hide. It's takes a 'what if' scenario and tells a very emotion heavy story about life, death, and that ultimately it's what we do with the time in between that matters. 

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