Variant Review

Monday, November 21, 2011

Title: Variant
Author: Robison Wells
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Thriller
Pages: 356
Source: Publisher

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.

25 comments:

  1. Solid writing, phenomenal plot, plus an authentic male POV? I'm definitely going keep an eye out for Variant next time I go to the bookstore, it sounds fantastic.

    Great review, Melissa! :)

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  2. Wow, this sounds amazing! Definitely picking it up. Thanks for the review!

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  3. We definitely have very similar feelings for this one - thrill ride is a fantastic way to describe it!

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  4. I've been really excited to read this one, and dare I say that the trailer gives me the creeps! The blurb actually reminds me of a game (999), except in the game, everyone is kidnapped in their homes. Cannot wait to read this - I'm hoping not to read too much of this at night, lest I be unable to fall asleep without a ___ (insert weapon name) to guard me.

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  5. This sounds awesome! I love dystopian novels, but a lot of them aren't very original so it's great to see something different. Definitely adding this to my wishlist.

    Jessica
    Lovely Literature

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  6. I'm gushing about this book! I totally looove the plot. And the ending? how could you left a story hanging like that... I seriously need the next book now!

    Jay @ We Fancy Books

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  7. It was incredible hu?? I also loved it sooooo much. It was so refreshing and so very unique! The ending was a horrible cliffhanger....

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  8. Oh, awesome! I've been hearing good things about Variant, but your review has really convinced me to bump it up the TBR pile. I'm so glad it's awesome! Thanks for the review, Melissa. :)

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  9. This sounds very creepy. Probably not the book for me, but interesting nonetheless. I like that it's written in first person POV. I don't know why so many people rag on first person. While there's nothing wrong with third person, I feel more comfortable reading first person.

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  10. Wow! I had doubts about picking this one up, but you totally convinced me. I'm adding it to my tbr pile now.

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  11. Damn Melissa, this might be my very favorite review of yours yet! I have this book on my TBR pile and it apparently needs to get moved up the list asap based on that piece of brilliance above. Really looking forward to giving this one a try now, I was thinking of maybe passing it by and clearly that would be an epic mistake:)

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  12. I am of course not big on thrillers, but dystopia, that I sure love. Interesting book

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  13. I read this and loved it too!! I can't wait to read the next book to see if anybody gets away! Loved your review:)

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  14. I really enjoyed your review. Very well said. This one was already on my list, but I need to move it up! Thanks!

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  15. Wow, this one sounds so good. o: I remember seeing it around, but I have no idea why I never stopped to look closer at it. It's definitely going up on my wishlist, without a doubt. Great review!

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  16. This book sounds absolutely wonderful. Admittedly I hadn't really heard of it a ton, but I love that it's a creepy, thriller, dystopian. It's so hard to find originality in genres lately and I'm so glad this one is so amazing. I'm shoving it to the top of the TBR. I loved this review, Melissa!

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  17. oh, i'm so glad you liked it! i have it but haven't read it yet. i saw a review that was so-so about it, which disappointed me a little bit - not because of the book, but because i really wanted the reader/reviewer to like it!

    glad you did. i hope i can get to it soon. it sounds positively perfect for me, really. ;)

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  18. I completely loved Variant. It wasn't at all what I was expecting....However I did totally call the twist in the book! It was a random guess, but it was pretty random twist! lol! The cliffhanger at the end totally blew me away. I can't wait for the second one!

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  19. Okay. Now I have to read this. A male MC, horror, dystopian and awesome characters all twisted into a fab story? Yep. I'm in. Great review.

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  20. I really enjoyed reading this book! I can't wait for the next one. I was totally blown away by the ending, too. It's a very different dystopian. And so happy to see a male POV as well. Great review :)

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  21. Thanks for this review!! I have this checked out from the library and was debating whether to make the time to read it before it was due back. After reading your review I think I will definitely make the time!!

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  22. YES! I agree! I loved this book. The ending left me excited for more!

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  23. Oh my gosh sounds AMAZING! My two favorite genres are dystopians and thrillers. I'm thinking I'm gonna have to read this book next. :D

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