C.G. Drews's Reviews > Extraordinary Means

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
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really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, read-2015, young-adult

That was extraordinary. ON COME ON! You knew I had to say that right?! But, honestly it was. I expected great things, mostly, because it sounded epic, and unique, and I loved the cover (I'm shallow and don't even deny it). I mean, a book about tuberculosis?! Is that even a thing anymore?? SO, gloriously, I a) learnt about tuberculosis, b) read an incredible book that made me sniffly, and c) the gorgeous cover did not lie. Thank goodness.

You know my favourite part? THE HUMOUR. There is so much self-deprecating humour which is, in fact, my favourite kind. I was cracking up all over the place! Which is, erm, kind of awful to admit because this is the story of kids who are dying. But humour is also a sort of coping mechanism. There is a whiff of dark gallows humour, but it's mostly light-hearted jokes because everyone refuses to believe they are doing.

...which leads me to flail over...

THE CHARACTERS ARE FREAKING ADORABLE. They're all different and the dynamics are awesome, and the fivesome (that is so totally a word) are quite diverse as well. Plus they are flawed. GAWSH. Are they flawed. They're insecure teenagers and they're facing death and they're making bad decisions and they're trying to stick together and -- gah. I was so sold on these hooligans. It's dual narrated by Lane and Sadie. Which was fantastic to get both their POVs because they're such different people and, I ship it. They are adorable. BUt let's just take a peek at all the characters, YES? Yes.

+ Lane: I related to Lane sooo much. He's such a workaholic. Like everything in his life is FOCUSED, everything is for the purpose of what he's working towards (basically, best college ever). He's always studying. He never lives life, basically. And he's totally sweet and nerdy and smart. Adorable, I tell you. I was quite a workaholic in high school too, so all his feelings about getting assignments done and not knowing how to "turn off"? I RELATE.
+ Sadie: She's one of those total WILD FIRES. She's spunky and brash and breaks the rules and flips her hair and doesn't care. A total bright light in a room of grey, you know? I liked Sadie. She's very insecure and scared to get hurt and often internalises things instead of talking them over with her friends. 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. It creates a little tension, but mostly he's an awesome secondary character. He has spunk.
+ 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? SADNESS. I guess all characters can't have equal interest-factor, but 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.
+ Charlie: He was the skinny, sad, artistic, gay, 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. Yeah I'm suspicious. I didn't get very attached to him because a) he was barley around, and b) he looked kinda deadly so I kept my distance.

I really liked the writing! Like REALLY. It was totally winning and addictive and the voices were relatable and quirky. No dull moments! HUZZAH.

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-we-won't-die-from'this-terrible-disease. Stupid. Utterly stupid. I get the whole "I'm invincible" mantra, and YES, probably most teens have it. I did not, when I was a teen. So this threw me a little because why the HECK would you risk dying just to get drunk??? There's a blackmarket going on in the boarding-school-camp-place-called-Latham so the kids frequently have alcohol on call. It was just irresponsible and stupid. And, seriously, would you have the whole I-don't-give-a-damn when you're in a camp for kids who are dying???? The book touched on the "you need to live life" message, but getting drunk IS NOT LIVING. Stupid, stupid.

Okay, and the ending?!! THE ENDING. I was expecting to be really hit in the feels. I was totally expecting someone to die. And to be honest? It played out exactly as I predicted. From the first few chapters, I picked which characters would be off-ed. They were. Of course I didn't predict the "HOW" right. And it was insanely feelsy and tragic and YEAH I KINDA AM UPSET RIGHT NOW. I am a potato of sadness. But, because I predicted it, I didn't even squeeze out a tear at the end. Although I am Vulcan. So tears are unusual for me.

SPOILERS ABOUT DEATH ---> DON'T OPEN DUH ---> (view spoiler)

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 really insanely deeply, b) the strain of TB in the book is fake, but the symptoms/results are real, 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. AHHAA. I'm a writer, and this author just because 1000% relatable. And she also conffesses she originally thought this book was a "pile of potato salad". And that is adorable. THE END.

(woah, long review. Clearly I have a lot of thoughts on this book. SHEESH.)

Anyway, I loved it and it was totally bittersweet and fantastic. I loved the characters! I loved the humour! I totally saw John Green in it, and I think it's a fair comparative (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 slap my sister in the face with this book until she reads it because it's so good and I want to share. WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE??? GO READ IT.

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Reading Progress

March 30, 2015 – Shelved
March 30, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
June 16, 2015 – Started Reading
June 16, 2015 –
page 100
29.76% "AWK. I like. It reminds me of Looking for Alaska, but cuter. Also death is coming."
June 17, 2015 – Shelved as: contemporary
June 17, 2015 – Shelved as: read-2015
June 17, 2015 – Shelved as: young-adult
June 17, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Hannah (Ivyclad Ideas) Oh great, another book that didn't sound like my cup of tea but now I NEED to read because it sounds awesome and EXACTLY like my cup of tea. Thanks a bunch Cait. ;)


Shanti Yes, I enjoyed this book too, but teenagers are stupid sometimes. That bright light theory is interesting. In my part of the world TB is extremely serious. and TDR-TB is terrifyingly close to reality for me. Awesome review Cait!


C.G. Drews @Midnight Rain Dragon: YOU NEED IT.

@Madeira: I was awfully ignorant about TB. And knowing the author's studied it so much makes me feel like I've learnt a lot reading this book.


message 4: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany This book sounds SO great! I agree with your "Bright Light" theory, though. Honestly, I think that trick is getting old and predictable, but it definitely still make me cry :')


message 5: by Kit (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kit Bradford I LOVED Sadie. Sadie was amazing. That book was amazing. Like, I cried when I read that book and kinda thought I'd missed the secret ending where she's alive or something?


Sandra I've just finished this book and I have to say it reminded me of J.Green's novels but I have to admit that this novel got me much more than any of Green's book. Highly recommended :)))


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