Book Review: Extraordinary Means – Robyn Schneider

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The life you plan isn’t the life that happens to you’ 

Lane’s a hard worker, he’s getting perfect scores, in the model UN and looking at a straight streak into Stanford, internships and Wall Street, that is until he gets a drug resistant form of TB which gets him sent to a boarding school for sick teens. While Lane thinks his life is over, it’s really just beginning and it teaches him something he’s never encountered before. Meanwhile troublemaker Sadie has has more than enough of Latham House and thinks that nothing will change until a past face catches up with her.

I have to start this review by saying that I am in love with this novel and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up earlier. While some people have hailed it the new The Fault in Our Stars I think that’s a brush off, not only is this novel completely different but it also doesn’t do Schneider’s writing justice, this is not a rip off of John Green although I think fans of his will appreciate it. I picked this up in a book haul and completely fell in love with it from the first chapter. It’s perfectionist characters like Lane (our protagonist) that I really fall in love with because I recognise them and I understand them, being a total perfectionist myself.

Extraordinary Means has a host of characters you can see walking around your head while reading. There are very few books that I get this emotionally involved in, that I pour over and finish in a matter of hours rather than days. What Schneider has managed to create is not one but four lovable characters, each with their own individual personalities that you can hold in your heart from the first page they’re mentioned to the last and I for one like to imagine after the novel and what the future holds.

This kind of novel is tricky, a lot of teenagers locked up for their own good dealing with being a teenager as well as being sick. There are a lot of people who write about illnesses but TB is something we no longer considered as a threat, it’s mostly wiped out, right? In this novel it’s very real and I for one sat and thought long and hard about what it must be like living with a contagious disease, taken away from everything and having to start a new. This is the power of these types of novels they make you think not only about the plot in the novel, but also about the wider world and the people in it. Would we react as people in the novel do? Would we care about the people living without a cure? It’s definitely worth a think, especially after seeing it through Lane and Sadie’s eyes.

I have to say that was one of the best parts of the novel, having two different perspectives was a nice change to a lot of YA literature. Seeing the side of a boy and a girl and their different reactions and emotions. While Lane is newer to the boarding school and a more relaxed way of life this is all Sadie has known for a long time, the differences are what makes this novel fantastic.

I have to give Extraordinary Means 5 stars *****. I read some Goodreads reviews that I felt were quite harsh on a novel that was superbly written. I finished this book in a matter of hours, it’s always going to have a place in my heart. Beautifully written and incredible…don’t try and compare this to any other book because you won’t find one.

Review by Chloe Metzger

My Top 11 Books of 2015

At the time of writing this I’ve read 77 books this year, which is less than I wanted to read this year! Boo! Although there is still time…I might get to 80. So for today’s review I thought I’d tell you the 11 best books I’ve read this year, because I couldn’t get rid of one.

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How to Build a Woman– Caitlin Moran

This is definitely the most influential book I read this year. I tried reading Caitlin’s book when I was younger and hated it, but I decided to try again for my Writing Women class this year. I laughed so hard reading it and just felt I could say I’m a feminist without seeming crazy or arrogant. I’ve not religiously watched all of Caitlins talks on YouTube and read How to Build a Girl and a good chunk of Moranthology. Read my review here.

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Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Haig has written a phenomenal book. I’m usually sceptical of books related to mental health, because it’s so hard to put into words but somehow Haig has put in exactly how I’ve felt. It’s also great if you’re living with someone with depression too. Read my review here.

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Beautiful & Beautiful Ever After – Katie Piper

I have been a fan of Katie Piper for years. Getting to meet her and get my own message and autograph was a huge highlight of my year. Both of these books are incredibly honest, Katie has the ‘just getting on with it’ attitude a lot of us with physical and mental disabilities have. Her two autobiographies are a brilliant read and full of heartbreak but also full of hope. Review to come in 2016 but you can read about when I met Katie here.

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Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

I rushed home from work to buy this the day it came out. There was a lot of divided opinion but I for one thought it was an incredible book. There is a completely different message than there was in To Kill a Mockingbird, but I think that it is just as important. Read my review here.

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Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

I have a book crush on Holly Bourne. Am I Normal Yet? is a fantastic piece of YA literature. Bourne always manages to create a magnificent story and this one is no different. Considering mental health, young people and what ‘normal’ is, she created an instant favourite once again. Read my review here.

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This Book is Gay – James Dawson

I picked up this book a long time ago and decided to finally read it (before James announced he was transgender, he is still using male pronouns for now) because I was curious. I felt like I could know more about the LGBTQ community and I’m so glad I did. I honestly think this book should be given out in schools during sex education! Review to come in 2016.

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The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

This was the first book I read in 2015 and I absolutely loved it. It’s a great addition to YA literature and has the power to open up conversations about the Trans community. I completely forgot to review it so I’m afraid it will be a 2016 review!

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Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman

Unlike most of the people I know I wasn’t addicted to the TV show. I didn’t mind it but I just didn’t find it as engaging. Instead I saw a Ted Talk by the real Piper Kerman and decided I want to read her book. I didn’t regret it. This is so interesting it looks not only at Piper but at the women around her and casts a critical eye on the prison system. I really recommend this as something to pick up in the new year.

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Extraordinary Means – Robyn Schneider

I was recommended this book by a friend of mine, I’d been curious about it for a while but also sceptical of the blurb. I was totally wrong, if you are a fan of John Green then this is definitely a novel to pick up. It’s funny, heartbreaking and I’m not ashamed to say I cried at one point. The review for this is coming up in February and I can promise you will love the main character as much as I did, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls – Lynn Weingarten

I can easily declare that this was the most amazing book that I read and that was released in 2015. I have told everyone to buy this because Weingarten has an incredible talents for writing that will keep you up until the early hours. I said ‘oh my god’ multiple times while reading and still think the twist is genius. Read this but make sure you don’t have to be up early the next day as you’ll devour it in one sitting. Read my review here.

I just wanted to say thank you so much for all of the support I’ve received about my book reviews. I’m so grateful for all the feedback and love I’ve received. There are going to be reviews throughout 2016 and I have some great books coming up!!