Good morning, afternoon, or evening! How are y’all doing? I’ve been busy lately…. having fun, I guess. It’s the holidays, and I’m at home, playing music, reading, baking, having a lot of sleepovers, spending time with my family, running… all the stuff I like. This should leave more time for blogging, but let’s see. I’m a horrible procrastinator, unlike Shanti, which is why I post less. (For example, I started this post half an hour ago, then stopped to read blogs and look at Facebook and all sorts of terrible things.) But I digress. Recently I finished Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Clearly (I couldn’t find my kobo, okay? It’s a nice book. Shush), An Ember in the Ashes (four stars? Helene was my favourite. I liked the world building) and then (spoiler alert) Extraordinary Means, which I will now review.
Title: Extraodinary Means
Authour: Robin Schneider
Genre: Dystopia YA/ sick lit
Themes: Illness, friendship, learning, Teens who are removed from their phones and homes discover that there is life to be lived and become Entirely New People. ( this theme thing is hard, okay)
My Blurb: Lane gets totally drug resistant TB and is sent to a sanatorium where he has to remake his life. Of course, there’s a beautiful girl from his past back to haunt him, and he starts to realise he had his priorities all wrong, and there’s a lot of learning for everybody. (This is quite hard to do.)
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.
This book was beautifully written. I liked all the characters, from Nick (whose real name is Nikhil. Why waste a perfectly nice name like Nikhil like that) a nerdy, hyper troublemaker, to Marina, tall, dramatic, gorgeous fashionista, and of course Lane and Sadie. At the beginning of the book, Lane doesn’t want to believe he’s sick. He wants to try to get better as fast as he can, not to return to his friends or his home, but so he doesn’t get behind on his schoolwork. He’s obsessed with grades and doing the right extracurriculars to get into Stanford. He’s so busy focusing on the future that he doesn’t stop to enjoy the now. He doesn’t even try that hard to make friends, as long as he has people to sit with at lunch. But at Latham House, he gets the chance to remake himself. Away from all the schoolwork and stress- his textbooks are forcibly removed when the doctor finds out he’d been up late studying- he gets to make himself a new person and put his priorities straight. I love his character development. I feel there was less character development around Sadie, but I loved the way they balanced each other- one thinking the TB glass is half full and the other empty. They were good main characters. The side characters were well written as well. I especially liked Charlie.
What I liked: The setting was great. Latham House, previously a boarding school, now a medical facility/summer camp hybrid., the characters, the premise- a combination of something not quite real yet tangibly possible, and drawing back on the idea of sanatoriums from the 19th and 20th century, the character development, the lingering nearness of death but the flippancy of the characters and ensuing startling truths about life and how it should be lived, the hilarious but occasionally serious dialogue, the slightly predictable but well written and engaging plot.
What I thought should be done differently (i.e, disliked): I really, really wished the idea of second chances and giving medicines or treatments when the result could do more harm than healing had been explored more, and made that relevant to the book title which really wasn’t relevant. There were excessive pop culture references that I got, considering it came out in May, but will be redundant in about 5 years at the most. The ending was bit predictable and not very satisfactory (it was a bit like magic, and not narrated very well. but no spoilers), there was a lot of medical things that weren’t really explained (as in, just tell us what TB is! I personally do know, being the daughter of doctors who has lived in rural areas of third world countries for a while, but still. It’d be nice to be reminded.)
Characters: 5/5 (favourite character was charlie, I think)