Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
|Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: The story of life, love and loss for sick, quarantined teens. It's funny and sweet and sad. And, with all the scare stories about infectious diseases like Ebola, it certainly gives pause for thought. We enjoyed this one.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: June 2015|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster|
|External links: Author's website|
When Lane rocks up at Latham House, he has no intention of being there long. There is no way he is going to allow a diagnosis of total-drug-resistant tuberculosis to get in the way of his inexorable progress to an Ivy League college and a stellar career. He has even brought extra textbooks and test papers with him, so that he doesn't fall behind during this period of quarantine in this medical facility for kids with this new strain of TB. But when he meets Sadie and her group of misfit friends, Lane begins to wonder if he's got his priorities straight. Perhaps there's more to life - and illness - than a progression of tests and achievements.
Extraordinary Means follows this group of disparate teenagers, all joined by the same possibly fatal disease. And the journey is a tumultuous one...
Extraordinary Means is a romantic novel, but it's a great deal more than a romantic novel, too. I liked the relationship between Lane and Sadie. It's a lovely love story and I believed in it. They are very different people - Lane buttoned up and thinking so much of his future that his present is escaping him, and Sadie funny and sociable but so defined by her present that a future seems impossible - but they fit together beautifully.
But really, the themes of this story had the biggest impact on me. We live in a world of health scares, don't we? Some are social panics without basis in science, like vaccines and autism. But some are horribly real, like growing antibiotic resistance and infectious diseases like Ebola. Extraordinary Means imagines a world in which an old infectious disease makes a terrible comeback thanks to drugs that are no longer effective. It could happen. It's even happening already.
What would we do? Would we go back to isolation and quarantine, as happened with TB the last time it was prevalent? How would it be to live in quarantine? How would the healthy population react to the infected? It's an interesting thought, isn't it? And quite a scary one, too. And the thing with scary thoughts is this: it's good to talk about them and discuss them, especially through stories.
Schneider pulls it all together very well. The kids at Latham House react to their illness and fear of death in very different ways. Lane focuses on his future. Sadie refuses to believe there even is a future for her. Marina writes. Charlie makes music. Nick drinks himself silly and Genevieve puts her trust in prayer. You can believe in and relate to them all, even the ones that you'd never be friends with in real life.
There's a lot to think about in this book. There is grief and pain but there's also hope and faith in the future. And there's a very sweet love story, too. What more could you want?
There aren't enough stories describing illness as it is experienced by young people. You could also look at Before I Die by Jenny Downham, about a girl with a terminal illness. Or there's the black humour in Henry Tumour by Anthony McGowan, which deals with a boy and his talking brain tumour.
You could get a free audio download of Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.