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Variant (Book 1 of 2) by Robison Wells

In YA Book Reviews on May 27, 2013 at 10:11 pm

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(Sci-Fi Dystopian, @ October 2011, 373 pages)

This book has an interesting plot: a boy with no family or friends to speak of seeks to leave his most recent foster family by applying for a scholarship at an exclusive private school. Benson is successful and heads off, hoping for friends and stability and a better life. He finds out almost immediately upon arriving at Maxfield Academy that that isn’t going to happen. The walls are far too imposing, the fence is topped with razor wire, and the minute the front door to the school opens, two students burst out and try to chase down the car he arrived in. Not a good sign. Benson finds out he has voluntarily walked into a maximum security prison of a school. There are lessons, but the students, self-separated into three distinct gangs – deliver them. In fact, they do everything there – no adults to be seen. A mysterious authority gives out points for work and punishments for rule breaking; the worst punishment being detention from which no one ever returns. Under the oppressive atmosphere, Benson tries to make friends and figure out a way to escape – something which no one seems to have ever done with any success, although many have died trying. He also wants to know why he is imprisoned. The books ends with quite the cliff hanger, so there is no easy resolution. (Feedback, sequel to Variant, was released October 2, 2012.)

This book got 4 1/2 stars on Amazon with many favorable reviews, some comparing it to other dystopian novels, as well as the TV show “Lost”.  Maze Runner author James Dashner says,”Variant is a compelling story on so many levels. I loved it! The twist behind it all is my favorite since Ender’s Game.” It is the first in what I am assuming is a triology, so, of course, it ends with a cliff hanger. I don’t share Dashner’s unbridled enthusiasm for the book, but I liked it enough to wonder what is going to happen next. It wasn’t the best book I have ever read, but, that said, it is a good read. The last few pages of Variant had preview chapters for the sequel, Feedback. It definitely caught my attention. It should be a good choice for fans of The Maze Runner and Divergent.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Helpful Link: http://www.robisonwells.com/category/variant/

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