Book Review: Variant by Robison Wells

Variant by Robison Wells
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Format: eGalley (courtesy of Netgalley)
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult
Publication Date: 10.04.2011
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.

This book had my attention from the very first chapter, where Benson is dropped off at the Academy, and the mind-boggling mysteries begin. I was so interested in finding out what in the world was going on in that creepy place. The school seemed completely wacko; those who were there seemed resigned to their fate, and the addition of someone like Benson--who refuses to believe there isn't a way out--shakes things up. He is a bit of a jerk, but he was the jerk that was needed. He pushes everything into action, and had the guts to find out more (even after being beaten up many times). While I didn't particularly like him, his personality was the perfect addition to the story.

The twists are surprising and I didn't see most of them coming. At Maxfield Academy, nothing is as it seems. I love that I could never figure out what would happen next. In the end, I had a lot of questions though, and not enough answers. Even when some big things are revealed, they are not explained. I'm a little embarrassed to say that I didn't get the ending...which has never happened before. I read the last few pages over and over, perplexed with what had just happened. I still don't get it. Do with that, what you may.

I also had some questions about the validity of the foster kids being in the academy. Supposedly, the Academy targets foster kids, because they don't have anyone who will worry about them, or who will check up on them. Once at the Academy, they have absolutely no contact with the outside world. But that can't be true, because foster kids have caseworkers. And state lawyers. And people who have to check up on them constantly with a phone call, or a face-to-face visit. These are facts. It would not be easy for them to just disappear for years (or lifetimes) like that, without raising questions about what goes on at the Academy.

Suspending disbelief about that, the book was good. It kept me on my toes, ready for whatever came next...and then surprised me every time. If you like action and mystery bundled with thrilling dystopia, this is the book for you.

Read this if:
...you like action and mystery, and you think you can outsmart the Academy.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.

{Some violence.}

Purchase Variant:
Robison Wells:
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  1. I saw this on Netgalley, and now I'm kind of kicking myself for not reading it then.

  2. I look forward to reading this one. I'm hoping to get my hands on it soon.

  3. Hmmmm I definitely love the sound of this book, but I don't like how a lot is left unanswered. I prefer books where there are concrete answers, or at least more detailed explanations for things.

  4. Been hearing lots of good things about this book lately! I haven't been in the mood to read a lot of dystopia lately but if that ever changes, I think I'll pick this one up. ;)

  5. I totally agree with your review. I didn't get the ending, either. I actually honestly wondered if I had the whole book, but apparently I did. :) I wasn't as into the book in the beginning, but it definitely picked up for me.

  6. LOVE the book...but some of my questions were not answered...like ..ok hate to spoil it..but there were not concrete answers..like what ashley said..and the ending..--.was benson an a_ _ _o_d too??dont get the ending!!!


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