Variant by Robison Wells
Published: September 26th, 2011 (HarperTeen)
Series: Variant, #1
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he's trapped in a school that's surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
Where breaking the rules equals death.
But when Benson stumbles upon the school's real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape--his only real hope for survival--may be impossible.
I had been ogling this book for a pretty long time before I decided to buy it. Then it was just gathering dust on my shelves for months. Until someone picked it as my next read when I finished my previous book. And oh-em-gee was I *glad* to have this book picked! The story is fantastic, with twists and turns everywhere you go, which made it impossible for me to guess where the story was going. It was brilliant.
While I originally thought this was a dystopian novel, I soon realised it’s not – not in the typical sense of a society built after a war/apocalypse at least – but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. The main character, Benson, is a loner, a guy without friends and no real family. He applied for a scholarship at a fancy boarding school, not realising that when he gets there, there’s no getting out. It might sound corny to set the story on a boarding school, but believe me, it’s not. It’s absolutely brilliant. I loved the fact that there were gangs, the plots they schemed and the way everything was organised. And don’t even get me started on the twists Wells throws in there! There was no way I could have seen the ending coming, and boy, did it make me want more.
Benson is a pretty stubborn character, but he’s also rebellious, smart, frustrated and most of all determined to get out of the place. He feels misunderstood, because everyone seems to be okay with being at Maxfield Academy. I loved the fact that he was such a fighter, even though everything worked against him, including the students.
While I was reading Variant, I couldn’t help comparing it to The Maze Runner. It’s like TMR, only in a school. It has a similar vibe, but with more twists and not as predictable – at least, not to me. I pretty much loved everything about it, except I kept wanting more. More twists, more rebellion, more paintball, more pages to the book. It’s very addictive while reading it and honestly, I couldn’t believe it was finished when it was. That ending! Argh.
The sequel will be coming out later this year, and I’ve pre-ordered my copy when I finished Variant. Wells has created a captivating world which will suck you in and have you guessing where you’re going the entire time. And I want more.