Thursday, December 19, 2013

Variant, by Robison Wells

One of my students told me a few weeks ago, "Variant is the only book I've ever read that I've actually liked." So, I knew I had to read it!!

Benson Fisher hasn't had an easy life. He's been in foster care since he was very little, and he's bounced around from foster home to foster home. This also means he's attended a string of schools, none of which have felt right to him. So, in a last-ditch effort, he applies to Maxfield Academy, a private school. He gets in, but realizes soon after enrolling that this school is not what he was hoping for.

There are no adults at the school, it's surrounded by a secure wall, there are cameras watching the students' every move, and the students have formulated three gangs - Variant, Havoc, and the Society - that rule the school. Benson joins Variant. No one is allowed to leave, but students disappear often; they're sent to "detention", from which they never return. No one knows where detention is or what happens, but they can guess.

From the get-go, Benson realizes that there's something not-quite-right about the school and makes plans to escape. But he'll realize that what's actually going on there is worse than he ever would have imagined.

Variant was really fast-paced and kept me guessing. I had to know what was going on at the school. I felt just as clueless as one of the students at the school, and I think that's what propelled me to keep reading. I also liked that it was kind of sci-fi-y without being overtly sci-fi, if that makes sense. The ending of the book was a definite cliffhanger; the next book is called Feedback and I'll definitely be reading it soon!

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