Though initially skeptical of the novel given its seemingly familiar premise (two seriously ill teens fall in love), Kathleen Caldwell, owner of A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, Calif., was immediately won over by Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means, due from HarperCollins’s Katherine Tegen Books in May. She explains why.
Since the success of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, the YA market has been flooded with just about every breed of “sick-lit” novel imaginable. When I picked up Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means, I thought, “Oh no – not another one.” Then I began reading, and before I knew it, three hours were gone. What makes Extraordinary Means different from some of the other books in this genre? It’s the writing!
Though setting a novel in the not-too-distant future in Latham House, a sanatorium for teenage patients who are quarantined after being diagnosed with a new strain of drugresistant tuberculosis, may be a risk, with Schneider’s medical background and her ability to create funny, believable characters, it works. She introduces Lane Rosen, a teen whose future is completely planned out – Model UN, AP classes, honor roll, and early admission to Stanford – until his low-grade fever and lingering cough is diagnosed as TB, and he finds himself with a one-way ticket to Latham House. Enter Sadie, the last person Lane expects to find there. Recklessly living life on her own terms, Sadie stages rebellions and is a main fixture of Latham’s unauthorized food-and-beverage black market.
What neither teen expected to find was love. They learn that the beauty of life is that every day as a living being is one step closer to dying, and it’s their responsibility to make the most of the time they have left.
Against the backdrop of chronic illness and death, Lane and Sadie discover for the first time what it’s like to truly live. Schneider hit a home run with her debut novel, The Beginning of Everything, and her readers will not be disappointed with Extraordinary Means. Once again, she has created wildly creative, eclectic characters and, as an added bonus, there’s an exceptionally swoony boy many readers will fall in love with. It’s a two-hankie read.
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 May ISBN 978-0-06-2217-16-5