Thursday, October 13, 2011

Variant by Robison Wells


Author: Robison Wells

Publisher: HarperTeen

4½ out of 5 stars

They’re watching.  They’re always watching.  Every single move you make, everything you say, everything you do, is being recorded.  If you blink, they’ll know.  They have cameras everywhere.  Even if you can’t see them, they’re there.  Someone is always watching you, and taking note of everything you do.  You can never escape their watchful eyes.  There’s no real explanation why, but there are consequences.  One wrong step and you’re out… for good.

Benson Fischer thought it was too good to be true.  After receiving a scholarship to the prestigious Maxfield Academy in New Mexico, Benson thought that finally his life would get back on track.  Being a foster kid, Benson never got to stay at any place for long.  His life was a road trip of stops across the country.  He has never really had anywhere he could call home.

That all changes when he arrives at Maxfield Academy.  From the first moment he knows that something is up.  When he’s dropped off at the entrance a boy and a girl come sprinting out of the doors in hopes to, well, Benson doesn’t really know what they’re trying to do.  Things just aren’t adding up, and Benson quickly realizes that what he signed up for may not be at all what it had seemed.

At Maxfield Academy there are no teachers, no adults of any kind.  There are just students.  The students rule the school, and they have split into three different groups, or “gangs,” to survive.  There is Society, the do-gooders and rule-enforcers, Havoc, the intimidating troublemakers, and the Variants, those who don’t really fit into the other two gangs and are hoping to escape.  Each gang has different jobs, or “contracts,” and has gone through their daily routines for as long as anyone can remember.

The students are given instructions from unknown superiors who decide everything, but nothing is ever set in stone.  Some days classes will start at seven, and other days noon.  Punishments are given out sporadically and randomly for different offenses, and the students never know when someone will get detention and will never be seen again.  But Benson does know that he has to get out.  There is no way he is going to stay in this place and wait around for orders, or worse… wait to be killed.  Will Benson be able to escape this prison?  Or will he die trying?  Robison Wells reveals all in his thriller novel about one boy’s journey to find answers and come out alive in, Variant!

Variant took me on an adrenaline filled ride, full of astonishing twists and turns that I would have never seen coming.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have to endure life in Maxfield Academy.  The things that happen there are enough to give anyone nightmares.  I received Variant from NetGalley* and I recommend it for fans of  The Maze Runner, Ashes, and Lord of The Flies, as it will definitely have you on the edge of your seat the entire time.

The setting in which Variant took place and the unimaginable things that these teens have to go through is something that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.  The way in which the teens of Maxfield Academy had to live their lives, with security cameras, a razor wire fence enclosing the school, and no possible way of escape was deeply disturbing and frightening.  Robison Well’s ability to constantly change the direction of the story in ways I could have never imagined kept me on my toes, and was reminiscent of the way in which James Dashner did so in his Maze Runner trilogy.

Variant was downright scary at times.  There were instances where the anticipation was more than I could handle and I could barely make myself turn the next page.  Well’s did a splendid job of keeping the tension and fear high, so that I would never lose interest.  There are still so many questions left unanswered, but I definitely can’t wait to learn more in the sequel to Variant, Feedback.

Despite the peculiar situation that these teens were in, they still tried their best to just be regular teens.  Escape was constantly on their minds, and they definitely never forgot about the cameras and the lies, but at times it was nice to see them allowed to just be teens.  To live the lives that they didn’t get the chance to.  Times like when they had a dance, or when couples would be in a relationship reminded me that even though they were handling this situation to the best of their ability, you had to give them a break after all.

I only wish that things were taken a bit slower in the beginning of the book.  As soon as Benson arrived at Maxfield, he already wanted to leave.  I felt it was a bit premature for Benson to feel that he already had to escape, especially when most of the other teens did not.  I feel that it would have made a bit more sense if Benson took  some time to try and adjust to life at Maxfield first.  But, then again, how do you adjust to somewhere like Maxfield Academy?

The ending to Variant absolutely blew my mind!  I am thoroughly confused now, but I’m loving it.  There’s no way I’m going to be able to guess what happens next, but when I read the last page my jaw literally dropped open, and I had to remind myself to close it before a fly or two went in.  I won’t say anything more, so you can go read it and hopefully feel just as mind-blown as I did.

Variant is an electrifying read that will have you constantly pointing fingers, only to discover that you’re way off track.  Brace yourself for a wild ride that you won’t want to end.  Join Benson, as he attempts to break out of the confines that are slowly killing him and his friends in, Variant!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

*I received this book from NetGalley, a website on which you can request free advanced reader copies of books. I received Variant by Robison Wells in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you NetGalley!

Check out Robison Wells' website at


  1. It sounds great! I haven't heard of this one but it's right up my alley.

    Found you from kpf's site. New follower now. :)

  2. This one sounds very interesting. I loved the Maze Runner and the Scorch Trials - so I am sure I will love this one as well! Very well written review. I can't wait to pick this one up and start reading!!!

  3. Ooh, this sounds so good! Scary, huh? Sounds perfect for Halloween!

  4. I've had an eye on this one myself. I have to say that I'm intrigued by the concept and I'll be bumping it up my TBR list a little. Too bad it's so long.

    Thanks for grabbing the HFJ button! We'll look forward to seeing you around the blogs during the event.


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