Book Review: Variant

Variant, by Robison Wells

After a rough life in various foster homes, Benson Fisher thinks he has lucked out when he arrives at the Maxfield Academy on a scholarship. But as soon as he arrives, he realizes something is wrong. Now Benson is trapped in a remote school with a barbed wire fence, video cameras, and surrounded by dangerous students and no adults. He is forced to choose among three gangs: the Society, Havoc, and Variants. The rules are strictly enforced, and just trying to escape means death.

Benson Fisher is a smart, head strong boy who is dead set on escape as soon as he arrives at Maxfield Academy and learns that he and all of the other students can’t leave. It immediately feels like a prison instead of a school, with the three rival factions and different points of view. The Society gang is those that follow the rules and enforce them for the mysterious powers that be. Havoc craves power. And the Variants aren’t happy with Society or Havoc and seem to be the ones that want freedom the most.

Told from Benson’s point of view, we follow his journey and search for the truth behind the school. Full of mystery, danger, and intrigue, fans of dystopian science fiction will love this new release. While reading, I found myself comparing Wells’s writing to other recent popular dystopian YA. The mood and intensity were similar to the Hunger Games or Maze Runner trilogies; yet Variant has a unique setting and plenty of mystery that kept me guessing. There are major twists and surprises along the way, building on the intense suspense. And a big cliffhanger ending left me wanting more. Thoroughly engaging and gripping, this thriller was all but impossible to put down.

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