Extraordinary Means – Robyn Schneider


Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

First published:  May 26th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

When he’s sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick tennis, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.

But when he meets Sadie and her friends – a group of eccentric troublemakers – he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn’t have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure. 

Extraordinary means is a darkly funny story about true friendships, ill-fated love and the rare miracle of second chances. 

This book sums up society’s reaction to illness perfectly. Like with the ebola crisis, the TB outbreak in this novel is treated with fear and isolation. This novel is set in the modern day and is the story of Lane, a regular teenager who studies a lot and suddenly becomes ill with a drug resistant strain of tuberculosis, or TB. He is then sent to an isolation unit in the middle of the countryside so that he, along with the other teenagers there, cannot infect the general public.

I realise that this sounds apocalyptic, like it could take the route that the whole world becomes infected and turn into flesh eating zombies or something. But it doesn’t. It takes a realistic look at TB, at the effect it can have on those ill with it and the public view. I liked the way that this novel focused more on the relationships Lane builds at Latham House, rather than him being ill with TB. This is why I like YA contemporary novels; they take serious issues and deal with them in a way that retains humour and fun. Some novels could take the issue and dwell on it and drag it out.

However this book doesn’t and you get to see Lane’s comic side. All of the characters were likeable in this novel, even the ones you weren’t supposed to really like, you liked. I particularly liked the way that every character was different – in the way that they looked, their hobbies and their personalities. Robyn Schneider did not fall into the trap of making characters really similar, which made it so much more enjoyable and interesting. That characters were normal and well, human. So many authors create ‘perfect’ characters with ideal looks but this isn’t the case. I do think part of the reason that the characters are so normal is that they are all so different.

I also loved the writing style of this novel. I’ve read Robyn Schneider’s other novel too and loved it. She brings the characters and the locations to life and this was something I particularly liked. Personally, it’s difficult to imagine being in the situation that the characters are in – under constant scrutiny etc – yet Schneider makes it understandable and clear.

This book has a quick pace, with a lot of things happening. Many of these things are completely unexpected (I won’t say what they are because of spoilers!) and they kept the story interesting and flowing. A lot of the things that did occur were things that in any ‘normal’ situation would be seen as boring, I guess. But given the characters’ situation they added to the feel of them just wanting something they cannot have because of being ill.

Throughout the novel, the narrator alternates every chapter. You get Lane and Sadie’s perspectives, which are both completely different as they are completely different people and have had different experiences of TB. I found this drew me further into the novel as you got two differing views which both varied as the novel progressed.

Again, something I feel that I shouldn’t mention (but of course I will) is how much I love the cover design. I particularly like covers with tree imagery – I don’t know why, I’m just weird like that. This cover (the UK paperback edition) uses trees in the shape of lungs (as shown in the picture!) and I think this is such a lovely image and perfectly relevant to the book as the woods and lungs both feature strongly throughout.

Overall I would totally recommend this book. I love the work of Robyn Schneider and look forward to more books that she produces as they are fantastic.

Rating: 5/5.


Challenging myself?

I don’t know about you, but I actually enjoy challenging myself. One way in which I like to do this is reading books that I find intimidating… Whether this is because of their length, language or genre, I like to have something that pushes me outside of my comfort zone, even if it takes me forever to read!

So I currently have a couple of books on the go that I have been reading for a while now. The first is Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and this is a challenge (for me) because of its length (it’s over 1200 pages with tiny font!) and also the language is quite old fashioned. I’m about 200 pages in now and I’ve been reading it for like, three years! But it takes me ages to read just a couple of pages and I don’t pick it up that often in fairness. I’ve wanted to read this book since forever – I absolutely adore the musical (I went to see it two years ago (I think) and I had wanted to see it for as long as I can remember). It’s so interesting to read the book because there is so much detail that the musical / film simply cannot include (such as Fantine’s background). I really want to finish this book by the time I finish university (Four years – I have one year of school left before I will hopefully be going to uni) so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself! I am loving this book, it’s just slow going.


The second book is L’étranger by Albert Camus. This is the french and original version of The Outsider. I have studied french from year one to AS level (year twelve). (No I’m not fluent – year one-six was, for the most part, repeating a load of vocab; great for travelling and finding your way, not so great for language proficiency – but I’m not complaining! My teacher was lovely). Although I really was not a fan of the AS / A2 course – hence why I have dropped it – I still want to improve my french. I bought this before I started my AS course when I was contemplating languages at university (during that unfortunate phase where I was questioning what I wanted to study – my mind is certain once again). However although I now know for certain that I want to study English it doesn’t mean I want to give up with languages as I still want to learn Spanish and improve my french. I’ve read very little of this novel so far, as I keep putting it off, but I do want to pick it up again soon.


Another book is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (I’m 33% of the way through on my kindle and I’m really enjoying it) which was a push for me as I’d been put off Dickens due to not enjoying Oliver Twist (although I love the musical film). Also I have recently begun picking up books in the fantasy genre; something I’d never really considered, but I’m really, really enjoying.

Have you picked up a book despite it intimidating you? I really wanted to read these books before but put them off because they scared me a little… Have you done the same?

Book Buying Problem?!

Okay, so another really quick post – but oh well! I want to finish BookTubeAThon before I spend time focusing on a review because otherwise I’ll find myself rushing the review!

Recently I have bought SO many books. I don’t mean one or two, or even five. In the last two weeks (I think) I’ve bought… Wait for it… NINETEEN books. Oops. But can you blame me? There are so many good books and yeah… *sighs*

So that happened, and now I’ve run out of space on my bookshelf. I’d only just sorted it out as well… Please tell me that it’s not just me who empties (well, move a few books from the main bookshelf into another room) their shelf and promptly fills it again? It’s just too tempting. Especially when there is a 10% discount on the Book Depository because of BookTubeAThon… (I took advantage of that pretty much immediately and bought 8 books…).

I think I may have a book buying problem… Surely it’s not normal to purchase 19 books in two weeks. Haha! I’m just so excited for them all to be delivered and then I will film a book haul on my youtube channel I think! Does anyone else feel the urge to just buy all of the books?!