Author: 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.
The talent runs in the family, that’s for sure! I remember prior to reading this book, I had read and loved I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, so finding out that these two wonderful writers are in fact brothers was surprising to the point that I never thought that I could enjoy both styles of writing so much. You know that type of book that you just can’t stop reading or be surprised by it? Variant is exactly like that and much, much more.
I can’t precise what was that attracted me to this book, but all I could do once I had it in my hands was to read it and read it and read it a bit more. The plot is remarkably mysterious right in the first pages, so if you like Benson and are curious about why he wants to run away so fervidly, this sure is a book that is going to make you go crazy of anxiety from start to end. It was very intelligent of Wells to pick as his novel’s background an immensely restrict and limited world, instead of going all the way of creating an ultimately new dystopian environment like many other authors of the genre do, so this way we was able to focus is attention on creating an incredibly twisted, bizarre and suspicious atmosphere to what is the centre of his characters wishes and conflicts—the Maxfield Academy. Undoubtedly, this is an odd place to be, guarded by both video cameras and a large group of students who somehow form an alliance against all others. There are three gangs in this school, the ones who take care of everything and are responsible for correcting what is out of place, the ones who enjoy creating chaos and the ones who are neither. Benson is a Variant, which means he is himself. He knows something is deeply wrong with the school and with the people who are in it, and soon realizes it was a mistake to accept that scholarship. But what are the secrets kept in between walls?
I liked Benson, a lot. I found him to be the exact type of male protagonist I appreciate the most. He is curious but conscious of his limits, he is tough but also knows how to be protective, and he is not scared of going against everyone and everything if that’s what he truly believes to be the right thing to do. That’s why he’s the one who gets more surprised about it, that’s why he’s the one who won’t know in who to trust and confide.
This book’s best asset surely is its easy writing and the ambience that Wells created. I never saw it coming, I admit. I knew this was a dystopian novel but no one could have prepared me for all the questions and all the doubts and all the nervousness. And the coolest thing about it is that even when I though I finally knew what was going on and nothing else could ever surprise me, bamb!, new twist! That ending was absolutely to die for. What a cliffhanger. What a gigantic number of questions twirling around. What a torture to an avid reader like me!
Variant is an outstanding reading and the kind of book that leaves a lot of doors open to its continuation. I haven’t read Feedback yet but I can only hope for Wells to have picked the right paths to follow. A lot can happen after this first book and all I want is an equally interesting, exciting and complete page-turner reading—it's not too much to ask, right?