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 is a coming-of-age story with an unexpected setting, a sanatorium for people suffering from a new drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis. Told through alternating points of view, we meet main characters Lane and Sadie.
Lane is the type of person that wants to do everything right. He is a model student and never makes mistakes. He’s involved in just about every organization at his high school. When he is sent to Latham House after being diagnosed with an active strain of tuberculosis, he is devastated. This was not going according to his life plan.
We then meet Sadie. Sadie has been at Latham much longer than Lane, tuberculosis can be a very long road to recovery so many of the kids have been at Latham for a while. Lane remembers Sadie from a childhood interaction in his past, and he is instantly drawn to her because she is everything that he is not. She is sarcastic, daring, and full of life. As their relationship develops throughout the story, there is still the ever-looming presence of why they are both at Latham House in the first place- and what it could mean for their future.
I have a feeling I will be in the minority here with my opinion. This seems to be a well-loved book on Goodreads and I will admit I was drawn to it by the beautiful cover and the synopsis that was reminiscent of The Fault in Our Stars (because who doesn’t love TFIOS?). It had the potential to be a lovely, coming-of-age contemporary romance, but it just didn’t work for me. Aside from a few glaring issues I had with the main plot of the story (I will discuss later) many of the characters felt a little too cookie cutter for me. Sure, there was some cute moments between Lane and Sadie but overall it was too predictable. Lane was the high-strung kid who worked and worked and never knew how to take a risk. Enter Sadie, who is all about taking risks and sometimes seems to have no regard for her own well-being. Lane falls in love with this girl and finally learns how to enjoy life.
We are also dealing with these characters in a sanatorium where some of the kids are very, very sick. The moments that were supposed to be emotional for me ended up just falling flat due to my inability to connect with the characters. It was well-written and well-paced, but missing something for me that makes a book great.
Aside from me not connecting to the characters, I had a few issues with the main plot of the story that hindered my overall enjoyment of what would be a decent story. First, sanatoriums don’t exist anymore. If the author brought them back for this fictionalized drug-resistant tuberculosis, okay, but I imagine they would have a little more security! Which brings me to my second point, WHY were these kids with active TB able to run around in public?! I know they were sneaking away..but that would be a huge public health concern and I really didn’t like that the characters did not think of the consequences of their actions. Maybe that was the point. I don’t know. But it bothered me.
This book was just not for me. I definitely understand why some people enjoyed it and if you are looking for a TFIOS-like book, you may want to consider it. It doesn’t have the same witty dialogue as all John Green books do, but I can see why people would compare them. What are your thoughts on Extraordinary Means? Have you read any other books by Robyn Schneider?