Variant (Variant #1)
by Robison Wells
Published: September 26, 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.
I am writing this now right after finishing the book and all I could just say is: HANDS DOWN TO ROBISON WELLS! This story is just super cool and oh-so-unique. But of course I have to recover first from the painful agony of dwelling on the fact about what a total cliff-hanger that was. The ending practically sent me screaming and demanding for the second book! Oh Robison Wells, how could you BE.SO.CRUEL??? When I first read variant, I originally thought that the story—although much extraordinary—was just this light and typical dystopian story. Boy, was I wrong. Variant was so much more. You’ll be caught completely on edge by the revelations and twists unravelling as you dig deeper into the book. It has this nervous factor of anticipation and excitement where you suddenly find yourself breathless, bracing yourself for whatever secrets Benson might come across next and discover. It’s that good. Robison Wells really did awesome on this book, and my respect increases incredibly higher for every page I turn. His writing was simple and interesting that I had no trouble following the story. The conflict was also presented lightly and clearly, and he made it so that it wasn’t boring and repetitive. Simply put, Variant is a treasure to behold and impart! But aside the melodrama, it is really a capital A-mazing book. Oh my dear fellow readers, I encourage you to read this book RIGHT NOW and share with my suffering for that damned ending. Nah, just kidding. I swear the story’s worth it even if you’d be left hanging, well on my part.
The story of Variant focuses on this boy, Benson Fisher, a constant foster kid, who received a scholarship from Maxfield Academy. At first, he thought this might be a solution to get him out of his miserable life, living in foster care and all. But the very first day he entered school, everything seemed suddenly very wrong—security cameras monitored their every move, microphones recorded their every conversation, a brick wall and chain-link fence kept them inside, and there were no teachers or counsellors to teach and guide them. As much as how he knew he could get everything he would ever want in a school here, Benson just knew he had to get out. And when he accidentally discovered the secrets of the academy, he decides he can’t trust anyone anymore, and that his attempt to escape this crazy institution is nearly as impossible as getting out of detention.
Variant reflects the behaviour of teenagers today and how they’d react to their environment, including the different decisions they make. It shows how smart and brave they are in the face of grave circumstances, and how they learn to trust and turn into each other for aid and comfort. It strongly represents the determination of youth to resist in authority they know they can’t trust, and their instincts to survive in an environment where the odds are clearly against them.