Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Up until his diagnosis, Lane lived a fairly predictable life - but when he finds himself at Latham House he discovers an insular world with paradoxial rules, med sensors, and an eccentric yet utterly compelling confident named Sadie (from Amazon). 


This is the first book in my October book haul that I actually had the chance to read, so apologies for the late posting of this review, it now being November and everything. 

Extraordinary Means follows the lives of two teenagers, Lane and Sadie, in Latham House, which is a hospital mixed in with a sanatorium. In this world where total-drug-resistant TB exists, Latham House offers a treatment program that guarantees 4 out of 5 residents can return home. With limited options, Lane has recently chosen to go there as he believes they can offer a quick fix and he can return to his 'normal' life and his plans for college. 

I liked this book, and it is dystopian fiction in a way I've never actually seen before. It's set in a world with a deadly virus that has no cure, but instead of it being ridiculous out-there, it's grounded in medical knowledge. TB was once a very prevalent disease, with a high death toll. No one understood what it was, how it spread. A cure was developed in the 50s, and the disease has been forgotten from memory. Children are immunised from a very young age against the diseases from the past, but due to the number of parents now deciding to not immunise their children they are slowly returning. In a way, a future where people have TB is something genuinely possible. The care Schneider has taken in making the book as medically accurate as possible is evident and very much appreciated. 

Each chapter switches between the perspective of Lane and Sadie. These two characters have a history, having met years ago at a summer camp when they were both healthy and 'normal'. Neither Lane nor Sadie were really living until they came to Latham House. Lane had always pushed himself to excel at school, to become top of the class. Sadie had long removed herself from the world, and always felt like an outsider. But at Latham House, they both discovered friends who understood them, a reason to stop thinking about the future and just live in the moment, discovering who they really were.

The only real problem I have with this book is it did remind me so much of a John Green book. I like John Green as a person; I think he's honest and a good role model, because he's not afraid to laugh at himself and be different. But there's something I find rather pretentious about his books, and there was a touch of pretentiousness in Schneider's writing. Not so much that I stopped reading, or that it affected my experience. 

Overall, I did really enjoy this book though. It was clever and thought-provoking. My favourite quote of the book is from Sadie, a character I really grew to understand. Sadie says "TB wasn't like cancer, something to be battle while friends and family sat by your side, saying how brave you were. No one held our hands; they held their breath."

I'd like to see this adapted into a movie, because I would really love to see this world. A time not that different from our own, mixed with the contagion genre. The message is something I feel more people should hear and that's how you should never stop yourself from doing what you want, otherwise it could all suddenly no longer be an option. It's about living in the moment, and it's an important message.  

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