At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.
There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.
But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.
One thing to know before you read Extraordinary Means: it’s not at all like TFIOS. Obviously, if a YA book is going to have sick teens, dying teens, and a love story that’s been doomed from the start, we’re going to compare it to John Green’s masterpiece. But Extraordinary Means was a whole new category of its own. And since we’re going down that path, let’s make it plenty clear—EM isn’t a type of book you haven’t read before. It won’t feel new or unique or fresh. No. Not at all.
But that didn’t stop me from becoming a mess of tears and watery smiles while I read the book.
One thing I’ve realised about new places is that they’re like jeans. Sure, they might fit, but they’re not comfortable. They need time to be broken in.
Lane doesn’t want to be at the Latham House sanatorium. Of course not. It will do nothing but take away his time from preparing for his dream—Stanford. But he’s been diagnosed with TB (the mutant strain which is completely drug resistant) and while the world waits with bated breath for a cure, Lane has to live at Latham and try not to die. While in there, he re-unites with Sadie, whom he had known for a short time at a summer camp when they were thirteen. She’s nothing like the girl he once knew—no, the new Sadie is rebellious and beautiful and a trouble-maker. The problem is, she seems to be angry with him, and he doesn’t know why.
Sadie has been at Latham House for fifteen months—she’s almost the oldest resident in there. With her close clique of friends and their “black market” of all things that Latham forbids, Sadie is quite happy (as much as she can be) within herself. But then Lane comes to Latham and she remembers everything that happened at the summer camp. And she avoids him as much as she can.
More than anything, I loved the way the two got together. Slowly, with wonder and awe, instead of hard and fast. Their gentle steps into a romantic relationship kind of made me long for a Lane of my own ❤ The romance wasn’t rushed—but it also didn’t drag. It was the perfect pace and I found myself shipping this ship so hard! And of course, with the invisible antagonist that forms the base of the book, their love seemed that much more bittersweet.
And of course, the book would be incomplete without mentioning Latham House and its inmates itself. Sadie’s group of friends formed the band of misfits that I fell in love with. They were so involved in the story, not just characters to move the plot along. And then there were the teachers and the staff that had their own personalities and voices and lives.
Extraordinary Means has a kind of writing that just grabs you from the first ten lines and keeps your attention until the very end. The prose flowed and weaved throughout the book so beautifully—THIS is precisely why we call writing an art! There was a dual POV (which I am not the greatest fan of) but it was done so well, and I found myself quite enjoying the shift of perspective from Lane to Sadie. So much so, that I wouldn’t have minded an overlap of certain scenes to understand both their perspectives perfectly. Keeping in mind the way that the book ended and the obvious benefit of hindsight, I’d be hard pressed to say that the book, on the whole, was filled with hope and optimism—unlike TFIOS which just completely wrecked me. Again, I wouldn’t want to change anything about the book, it was perfect the way it was, and all lovers of John Green and Sarah Dessen’s writing will find a new favourite in Extraordinary Means.