Variant by Robison Wells
Release Date – October 4, 2011
Publisher Website – HarperCollins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader
Pages - 373 pages
My Rating- 7/10
**obtained from Book Expo America for an honest review**
Here is Goodreads synopsis
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.
This novel started out reminding me of Lord of the Flies. There are various “gangs” that the teenagers trapped in this “school” have formed. Some enforce the rules, some want to break them, and others just want out. I remember reading Lord of the Flies in high school and it made a lasting impression on me. I was excited to see shades of it in this novel. It is interesting to see how the teenagers developed without any adults. The various survival instincts, predator/prey, and the cruelty that will reign if given the chance. This was my favourite part of the novel, and what drew me in.
Benson Fisher, our main character, is likeable enough. You have to feel sorry for the situation he is in, and what brings him to the Academy. Right away though, you can tell this is not going to be good for him. You do end up caring what happens to him, and really hate the situation he’s gotten himself into. You’ll be reacting along with Benson - angry, confused, upset.
There is a little romance in the novel, however it really focuses on other things. There is a lot of action, it’s fast paced, and has plenty of shocking reveals. The entire story feels like you’re on the edge. Everything at the “school” is on this fine wire, balanced so precariously due to reluctant agreements between the “gangs” that you’re waiting for it to explode. The tension is taunt, and remains throughout.
The things that are revealed are spine tingling scary. I won’t give it away because it’s actually a really awesome twist when Benson finds out. I thought it was unique and brings up so many questions. This brings me to my only issue with the novel - not enough answers. I feel like this book should really be judge as part of a whole series rather than on it’s own. I wish we would have found out more about the school, and why exactly these kids are there. I think it will be addressed in later novels, but it’s a huge part of the story that I was intrigued by. I feel that this is really more of a starting point to a make larger storyline, I just would have loved a little more pay off in the answer department.
I think this novel would really appeal to reluctant young male readers (11 to 14 years old). It has the potential to really draw them in and keep them interested, so I would recommend it for that group. I am intrigued, and am interested in seeing where this story is going to go.