Variant by Robison Wells was a really great surprise, y’all! The entire book was very mysterious and sinister – for most of the story the reader has no idea what direction the book will take. There are several plot twists, and a couple of them literally slapped me on the face. I haven’t felt so in the dark about where a story would take me in a long time, and it was a great feeling! I loved not being a step ahead.
Benson Fisher gets a scholarship to a boarding school and thinks he has really made it. He grew up in the foster system and definitely got the crappy end of the deal. Right now he is basically being used as free labor and he absolutely jumped at the chance to get himself into a new situation. Unfortunately, the second he is dropped off at his new school he discovers things are not right.
No adult supervision. Cameras and microphones everywhere. Three equally dangerous factions, join one or find yourself completely unprotected. Breaking the rules = detention that you don’t come back from. No way out. This is not your mama’s boarding school.
Benson is shocked at the way the majority of his peers are accepting of their prison sentence – how can people be okay with being trapped away like this? He refuses to give in and get used to it. At times, he does find himself enjoying life. Intense, all-out paintball wars, really awesome food, some great people (including Jill, who makes a lot of things seem worth it)…but the second he catches himself happy he forces himself to snap out of it. He continually searches to find a way out, which basically alienates him from almost everyone. Nobody wants to get grouped with him since they all think he is headed straight for detention (death).
The first half of the book is pretty much summed up by Benton getting used to the other students and life trapped in the school…and his constant search to find a way to run. Then all of a sudden the twists come – you won’t see it all coming. Promise.
I highly recommend this to fans of dystopians and science fiction. A complete breath of fresh air, a thrill ride and a story well worth becoming invested in. I’ll definitely be eagerly awaiting the sequel!