Author: Robison Wells
Publication Date: 10/04/2011
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.Having lived his live moving from foster home to foster home, the opportunity to attend Maxfield Academy was like waving the rare golden ticket in front of Benson Fisher. The fact that the school was so far apart from everything in the New Mexico desert was curious, but seemed like a fair trade-off for a chance at an opportunity for a good education and perhaps even a chance to make some friends. Benson soon found himself dropped off in front of the school's entrance and it was only as driver of the car sped away without even getting out that he noticed the children staring down at him from the windows of the school. Something was wrong.
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.
It's going to be difficult to write this review without doing two things: gushing about how much I loved it and trying desperately to avoid mentioning anything spoilery. The school, completely run by the children living there, is for all intents and purposes a prison. The students are told when and what to eat, what to wear and what to learn. Tasks within the school are divided among the three groups, and access to the outside is extremely limited. Food and supplies mysteriously appear and there are cameras everywhere, monitoring not only their movements but what they say and who they say it to. The peace between the groups is untenable, with the children stepping delicately on eggshells to maintain the status quo.
Benson Fisher, a character after my own heart, is not fond of the status quo. As he is the most recent addition to the student body, his acceptance of the goings on at Maxfield is happily lacking. He didn't come all the way here to be subjugated, and he wants answers. The answers he gets are shocking and completely unexpected. The more that I read, the more I braced myself to not being able to predict anything in the best sort of way. The supporting characters here are plentiful and stand up well in supporting the story as it unfolds. The tagline though, for Variant is completely apt: trust no one.
Variant is a book that I carried around with me everywhere and never wanted to put down. If you're looking for a riveting story that will shock and keep you on your toes then this is definitely one for your shelf. While there is a cliffhanger ending, if book two were available on Goodreads to add to my TBR it would already be there. Benson's journey is only yet beginning.
This ARC was received from HarperTeen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.