Review: “Variant” by Robison Wells
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.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Benson Fisher, who has spent his life in foster care, hoped that by accepting a scholarship to Maxfield Academy, his life would change. It did. Just not in the way he imagined.
Upon arriving at Maxfield Academy, Benson notices that something seems off about the Academy. There are no adults around. The students act as the teachers and employees, bidding on jobs for points (which they use as money). Students are not allowed to leave the school; if they try they are sent to detention where they are never heard from again. The others try explaining to Benson that it’s best to follow the rules, especially with the cameras on them constantly, but he didn’t come to Maxfield Academy to be imprisoned. He came hoping for a new start before his eighteenth birthday. Refusing to be held prisoner, Benson searches desperately for an escape, uncovering some disturbing truths along the way.
Benson is a very strong-willed character. As soon as he enters Maxfield Academy, he senses something is off. He’s not really sure what, until Becky explains how the Academy operates. He doesn’t understand how the other students can act as though the entire situation isn’t wrong. Each movement, each word, is being watched carefully over the cameras (placed throughout the entire school). To Benson, this isn’t a school, but rather a prison. He needs to get out of there and he’ll stop at nothing to do so.
I found the entire Academy to be fascinating, too. The way they monitor the students, how they only go after children who won’t be missed (as there is no outside contact once you enter the Academy). It’s very all very disturbing, but it also keeps the reader guessing and curious as to what’ll happen next. You’re never truly sure who you can trust.
It is incredibly easy to get lost in the pages of “Variant”. With perfect pacing and a plot that’ll keep you guessing, “Variant” is one of the best YA books to come out this year. My advice? Set aside a few hours so that you can read this one in a single sitting. Oh, and go buy it. Now.