Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 26, 2015
Genres: young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary romance, coming-of-age
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I’d been excited about this one every since I saw the book trailer for it (which, as far as book trailers go, is well-done, IMO). This book promises an introspective look at life and love when both are juxtaposed against sickness and death. It also promised a cute and special romance.
And I was enjoying this book, because it delivered on these promises, and even built on them. Schneider offers us Sadie and Lane as dual narrators for this story, and I think she was successful in balancing them both. Each is a rounded, developed character with a unique perspective; I didn’t mix the two up while reading. Also, the writing is really pretty.
But then the twist at end happened.
Yeah, it was realistic (and I commend Schneider for not avoiding the inevitable and playing it safe, I really do) and there wasn’t much of a way to avoid it, but it didn’t feel…right. To the characters, to the story, or to the overall message this book was trying to tell. I was still in denial of what had happened even after I finished the book.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
You’ve been warned.
Why does Sadie die? To show that life is fleeting, so enjoy it and your loved ones while you can? To show that sometimes people don’t beat the odds?
How is that inspiring? How is it meaningful? Her death sends the message that you can try to fight death and persevere, but don’t worry, it’ll get you in the end anyway. And while that might be “real life” and realistic in the context of this story, Sadie’s death kind of demotes her character, in my opinion, from a main character who is independent and determined and stubborn and sensitive (all without sacrificing her femininity) to a plot device that allows Lane to gain a new perspective on life/death/love/what have you. Basically, a manic pixie dream girl, only less perfect.
Which is sad, because I really enjoyed the rest of this book; I was planning to give it at least four stars before that ending.
If you’d like a pretty, sad (pretty sad, really, eheheh) story about a love that blooms even as life withers, I would recommend this book for the characters and the writing. Just watch out for the ending (and maybe have some tissues on hand).