Author: Robison Wells
Publish Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Thriller
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.
When Benson is accepted into Maxfield Academy, he's elated. This is his chance to get out. This is his opportunity to become something bigger and better than he would otherwise be. At least, that's what the academy looks like from the outside. Once inside the walls of the prep school he was so honoured to attend, Benson realizes that he now lives within a veritable petri dish. There are no adults. The school is locked tight, and the students trust no one. But Benson soon realizes that there are two choices in Maxfield Academy. Follow the rules and suffer the consequences, or break the rules and pay the ultimate price. When the choice is death or eternal suffering, which would you choose?
It's safe to say that Variant takes the dystopian genre, throws in a twisted core and makes for a tumltuous and entirely destructive novel that's a thrill ride from start to finish. Author Robison Wells has created a masterpiece in Variant that blends the best of horror, dystopian and character-driven novels into a rich, frightening and utterly original world. With a powerful cast and an equally potent premise, Variant presents a dark and terrifying world that is easy to become lost in. Trust me when I say that you want to be lost in the world of Variant, but you will be truly glad to escape it in the end. Mind-bending and haunting, it will leave you spellbound.
Before I say anything else, I have to say how refreshing it was to read a book with a male MC that is first-person narrated. In a genre dominated by female protagonists, it was such a breath of fresh air to hear how the world looked from Benson, a teenage boy's, point of view. Plus, his voice was truthful and real, lending to the carefully crafted lunacy of Variant. There's a beauty in the despair of a true dystopian novel, which Variant embodies. You're given the bleakness, you're given true darkness and you're driven towards a lack of hope that lends to desperation. Variant gave us a unique spin, however, presenting a carefully controlled environment in this dystopia, but allowing that environment to twist into utter chaos within its chains. Watching the world of youth turn in on itself was bone-chilling, and the author crafted it carefully in order to keep us riveted. The beauty of Variant is that it makes you question everyone, without fail. The tagline, "trust no one," was entirely accurate, and I could never have guessed the end, which left me reeling. The writing is solid, and the plot is phenomenal, so without giving anything away, allow me to say that Variant breaks the mold and gives us a fresh new take on the genre.
All in all, Variant blew me away. I was expecting a good read, but I got an amazing read, and that is a true pleasure. I give it a 5 out of 5, and I highly recommend this book to all fans of YA fiction, especially those who enjoy dystopian and thrillers.
I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.