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review 2015-11-07 19:40
Extraordinary Means/Robin Schneider
Extraordinary Means - Robyn Schneider

Up until his diagnosis, Lane lived a fairly predictable life. But when he finds himself at a tuberculosis sanatorium called Latham House, he discovers an insular world with paradoxical rules, med sensors, and an eccentric yet utterly compelling confidante named Sadie—and life as Lane knows it will never be the same.

Robyn Schneider's Extraordinary Means is a heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful story about the miracles of first love and second chances.

 

I had a feeling that this book was going to cause me immense emotions, but I still went ahead and read it. That was my mistake.

 

Throughout this book, there was dread hanging over my head. When the setting's a place for kids with terminal illness, one kind of has to assume that someone's going to die. But it didn't go at all how I expected.

 

I held out through the end of this book and closed it without shedding a single tear, but then I broke down completely and got really angry at the world. Schneider's writing was beautiful and made me contemplate life in such a gorgeous way.

 

The premise was at points a little contrived, but this was forgivable. I enjoyed how Lane treated the situation and what this eventually led to, and I enjoyed how it initially felt so close to the books about students at boarding school that I used to read when I was young.

 

The group of characters Lane eventually fell into was fun and believable. They all felt like real people, and their dynamic was playful and carefree, a complete contrast to the atmosphere that the setting provided.

 

Schneider knows how to capture the vitality of life and this was an example of gorgeous writing. Anyone who likes John Green will like this one, and Schneider is an author to look out for.

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review 2015-09-30 08:41
The Beginning of Everything/Robin Schneider
The Beginning of Everything - Robyn Schneider

Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything is a witty and heart-wrenching teen novel that will appeal to fans of books by John Green and Ned Vizzini, novels such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and classics like The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye.

Varsity tennis captain, Ezra Faulkner, was supposed to be homecoming king, but that was before—before his girlfriend cheated on him, before a car accident shattered his leg, and before he fell in love with unpredictable new girl Cassidy Thorpe.

As Kirkus Reviews said in a starred review, "Schneider takes familiar stereotypes and infuses them with plenty of depth. Here are teens who could easily trade barbs and double entendres with the characters that fill John Green's novels."

Funny, smart, and including everything from flash mobs to blanket forts to a poodle who just might be the reincarnation of Jay Gatsby, The Beginning of Everything is a refreshing contemporary twist on the classic coming-of-age novel—a heart-wrenching story about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

 

I absolutely adored this book, its characters, and how they evolved.

 

This was a love story, but it was also a character-driven tale of self-discovery and understanding what one really looks for in life.

 

Ezra is going down as one of my favourite YA narrators yet. He's quirky and fun, likable but real. He has his own little mantras, such as his thoughts on personal tragedies, that recur in a way that sometimes makes me shake my head in amusement but are enjoyable and touching.

 

He leaves his comfort zone and continues to live after his accident that would leave some people unwilling to leave their room. I was constantly impressed by how he just got up and kept going, and I related to his stubborn pride that had him late to classes as he limped.

 

I loved that Ezra's disability didn't become the only factor of him, yet how at the same time it wasn't forgotten--Schneider slipped it into small moments that made it feel very real.

 

All of the characters in this book were interesting and memorable. From Ezra's parents to his old group of friends to a younger girl in his new group of friends, I could see everyone having their own life and their own story separate to Ezra's. I enjoyed Toby especially and his good humoured personality.

 

The ending was gorgeously written, perfectly real, and made my heart clench into a million pieces.

 

I highly recommend this book as a tale of growing up and really discovering who you are.

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review 2015-07-10 02:05
Extraordinary Means
Extraordinary Means - Robyn Schneider

So you’re sick, let’s send you away so we don’t have to deal with you. That is how I felt about the characters in this book. Ok, I know that’s a little cold but it’s not the 1700’s and when they placed the characters in a sanatorium because they have tuberculosis, it just sounds a bit harsh to me. Latham House, a house for patients who perhaps might spend the rest of their lives within its walls just waiting for a cure. Sadie has been a residence for a while before Lane arrives but they have known each other long before they were patients at the Latham House.   Sadie is holding a grudge against Lane from an incident when they thirteen-years old. It isn’t long though before the two of them are friends again and the past is behind them. Lane’s has always had a structured world, working hard and achieving goals, but Sadie is trying to convince Lane that he is missing out on life and that he could still achieve his goals just get them differently, enjoying the journey, having fun in the process. They are to follow a routine at Latham House but for a group of teens being stuck behind these walls gets to be too much and they have to break a few rules just to have a bit of fun.

It wasn’t a complex story; I felt no deep connection to any of the characters as they filled out the storyline. The emotions were there but my heart wasn’t in it.   It just wasn’t the story for me.

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review 2015-06-19 20:13
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
The Beginning of Everything - Robyn Schneider

I had really high hopes for this book. I can’t exactly pinpoint exactly what it was that made me think this was going to be really awesome. It could be the cover, which I try not to fall for, or the comparison to John Green. Whatever it was, I was really looking forward to The Beginning of Everything. Unfortunately it wasn’t all I had hoped it would be.

First, something about it made me think that it’s going to be super funny. It was, just not as funny as I thought it would be. Ezra had jokes, he was witty and he had a sarcasticness to him that I liked but it didn’t make the book less tedious, and it was tedious. I felt like the writing was all about trying to be smart, but what it ended up being was a little bit boring.

Also, while I did like Ezra and thought he was funny, I did not like Cassidy at all. Here’s the thing, she was a bitch. Yes, very clearly she had a secret. Something happened to her, and you can tell she’s haunted by it. Whatever. It doesn’t change the fact that she wasn’t a very good person. Even before she switches to Ezra’s school, back when Toby knew her as a girl at the debate competitions, she was described as flighty and that she was known for breaking hearts. Then, multiple times throughout the book, she just really grated on my nerves. Honestly, I just didn’t get it because while Ezra was maybe a little shallow, he was obviously nice. He didn’t hold grudges, he knew when he was being a dick and he’d apologize for it. He deserved someone nice too, and if I had written The Beginning of Everything I know who I would have picked.

What I did love, and why I gave this a C+, was Toby. He was such a good friend. It didn’t matter what had happened in the past. He didn’t harbor any deep seated anger, although anyone would understand if he did. He was just there, to help Ezra after his tragedy, as though they had always remained best friends. I would have loved if the author had focused on the friendship in the book, rather than a contrived romance. There was so much untapped story there, and one that deserved more time.

I’d read a book that focused on Ezra and Toby.

 

See this review, and others, at Badass Book Reviews!

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review 2015-03-28 00:00
The Beginning of Everything
The Beginning of Everything - Robyn Schneider OMG THE FEELS.

This was the second book I’ve read from Robyn Schneider, the first one being Extraordinary Means which won’t come out until May 2015, and I’m really amazed by the way she writes. When I read the ARC of Extraordinary Means last year, I told myself Robyn has to be an auto-buy author for me. This novel just solidified that fact more.

This book tells the story of Ezra Faulkner, one of the most popular boys in their school and how he fell in love with Cassidy Thorpe, the new girl.

This book hit me just right in the feels. Robyn Schneider writes amazingly realistic fiction. It’s very relatable, funny and heartwarming. It’s as if she really understand teenagers, which is really a good thing.

Ezra was a very likeable and relatable character, despite his flaws and I’m not talking about his physical flaws. He might be an asshole but he really was kind and funny most of the time. He’s got an awesome sense of humor, especially the puns. His relationships with most people were unpredictable but once he realized who his true friends were, it solidifies. I also love the fact that he has a dog, Cooper, because I love dogs. I really enjoyed it when it seemed like Cooper was communicating to him with his eyes and Ezra’s trying to voice it into his head with Cooper sounding like Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. And no, I so did not imagine Leo DiCaprio as a dog. Okay… maybe a little…

Cassidy was the kind of girl that could easily be my best friend. I love her to pieces. She was really interesting, especially during the first parts of the book where Ezra got to meet her. She seemed weird and awkward but I think it’s pretty normal for someone who just transferred school. I love her wits and her sense of humor as well. The kind of friendship she had with Toby and the others, including Ezra, was really great.

The other characters weren’t flat. I love that they’re given enough dimension and exposure to not be considered as minor. Toby, Ezra’s best friend, was pretty funny as well. So were Austin, Phoebe and Luke. Their gang actually reminded me of my high school friends. I also love the fact that they’re on the debate team and the fact that they do love to geek out. I loved the Harry Potter and Doctor Who references, and possibly a huge Vampire Weekend one because the band was mentioned twice and the main character shares the same name as the band’s frontman. AND I DO LOVE VAMPIRE WEEKEND.

I loathed Charlotte’s character because I do HATE bitches with all my pure heart. She’s unnerving and I want to poke her eyes out with her own fingernails. Really, props to Robyn for effective writing. As for the other “jocks” most of them were just pretty much dumb assholes which I found actually pretty funny.

The story was really appealing and heartfelt. I read this one in less than 24 hours which wasn’t really surprising because I basically devoured Robyn’s other book. I have to admit though that the ending wasn’t really solid for me but the entirety of the book helped overcome that one. The book was very interesting, relatable, realistic and yes, heartbreaking. I am definitely looking forward to more of Robyn’s works.
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