Sunday, November 6, 2011

Review: Variant by Robison Wells (ARC)

Title: Variant 
Series: N/A
Book #: One
Author: Robison Wells
Published: 2011
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
My Rating:  

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. (taken from

I plunged into this thrilling novel with absolutely no expectations. I barely even knew the synopsis, and I hadn't read any reviews or heard any hype. Luckily, I was immensely impressed with the mastermind plot filled with conspiracies, jaw-dropping plot twists, and intense escape plans. 

The story is told by the suspicious teen Benson, who adamantly refuses to believe that Maxfield Academy is simply a unique learning environment. Maybe it's the ever present security cameras watching his every move, or the extreme punishments dolled out to those who break the rules. Either way, Benson immediately realizes that he must escape from the educational prison. Benson's confident defiance and willingness to defend what he  believes in makes him an admirable protagonist. 

Inside Maxfield, there are three "gangs." In order to survive, each student must belong to one of these very different groups. One of my favorite aspects of Variant was the well-defined identity that each gang formed. The Society obediently enforces the school rules and hands out punishments. The vicious Havoc group stakes their territory with violence. Those who do not belong to either of these extreme groups belong to the V's, or Variants. As the story progresses, each gang's beliefs become all the more obvious. 

The pages of Variant hold a gripping mystery. Who is behind the cruel academy, and why are they imprisoning dozens of students? I was constantly trying to predict the school's next move, as well as Benson's, but I was always way off base. I was SHOCKED by some of the revelations in this fast-paced thriller. The ending left me hanging and desperate for a sequel!

Overall, I am so thankful that I decided to give Variant  a shot. The surprisingly original story had me gasping and turning pages rapidly to figure out the next clue. I strongly recommend that everyone check this one out!