Author: Robison Wells
Series: Variant #1
Genre: YA, Scifi
Published (UK): 16th December 2011 (HarperCollins)
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Acadmey 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, where video cameras monitor his every move and where breaking the rules equals death.
All Benson wants is to find a way out. But when he stumbles upon the real secret the school has been hiding, he realises that escape may be impossible.
As soon as Benson sets foot in Maxfield Acadamy, he knows something is wrong. He can't quite work out what's going on to start with but it soon comes to light that the students are essentially prisoners in the school, they can't leave and camera's watch their every move. Also, there's no teachers or other adults; the students themselves are responsible for making sure the rules are kept as well as all the other jobs that keep the school running. Benson soon learns that the majority of his new classmates are affiliated with one of three groups. The Society who do everything by the book; Havoc who don't and the V's (Variants), who are essentially the one's who don't want to be part of the other two groups.
Variant is can easily be compared to books such as Lord of the Flies and The Maze Runner and is every bit as good as both of those. Benson is a character who's really easy to like. Often I find in this kind of book, the protagonist is either completely clueless of what's going on around them or they figure it out straight away. Thankfully, Benson is neither of these. He questions everything that's strange about Maxfield Academy but he still struggles to work out what is happening and while he is determined to escape, he also has moments where he wonders if it's just easier to go along with it. It's easy to relate to his emotions as the story progresses, feeling his frustrations and confusion along with him.
The only slight problem I had with the book was that I didn't realise it was part of a series and so I was expecting it to be all tied up by the end. It wasn't until I had about twenty pages left that I thought "Okay, this isn't going to be finished" and then I had a look on the Internet and discovered there's to be a sequel. Mostly this is a good thing as I definitely want to read more about this world and it's characters but I was a little frustrated that I didn't get the answers I'd been waiting for - especially as the book ends on a pretty big cliffhanger.
A definite enjoyable read. just don't expect to understand exactly what is going on by the end of this installment.