Wednesday, November 30, 2011

REVIEW: Variant by Robison Wells

Title: Variant by Robison Wells
Pages: 356
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: November 22nd, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Source: Lucy at 5 Minutes Peace (for review)

Summary (Goodreads):
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 wasn't completely sure about what I'd think of Variant, I don't know exactly why. I was expecting some average-ish while still a good read. But anything I ever thought about the book before I read it has disappeared, and replaced with something totally different. Because Variant was amazing. One of the best dystopian-but-not-really-dystopian books I've read. And frankly, it scared the hell outta me with all it's twisty bits and threats and the whole, "NO ONE LEAVES" thing.

Benson Fisher arrives at Maxfield Academy with only hopes of ending his life as a foster-child, and starting that of a 'normal' one. But when Benson finds out that there are no adults to be found at the Academy, only students who run the school and somehow teach themselves, he doesn't know what to think, and soon realizes that the people with real power over Maxfield Academy aren't keeping these kids for an education exactly...and no one ever leaves.

I have said time and time again how I LOVE scary books and just the synopsis of Variant gives me chills. I started reading it during lunch in my school library and then the librarian came over to ask about what I was reading and I just stared at him for like, a minute, because my mind was totally freaked out and my eyes were huge and it was like I didn't know how to talk because even though I knew what was going on, I couldn't explain the story because it sounded flat coming from my mouth. Do you guys know what I mean? You have to read it yourself and you will just KNOW.

Male protags for the win! In a genre where female protagonists are the dominators, reading from a male POV is so very refreshing. While I may be known to read (and love) lots of books with gushy, girly-girly protags talking about nail varnish and dresses, I thank Wells for not going down that route but giving us Benson instead, who's voice was so real and so not girly in any way. I loved how he questioned anything and everything. I would. Especially after seeing the behaviour of the others kids at Maxfield Academy. And he did it without caring about the rules! Rebel, much, Fisher?!

My favourite part was the mysteriousness of it all, though. You know that feeling when you're kept in the dark throughout a story and then you find out one thing, and then another and another and it all clicks into place and you get so excited about everything? YEAH! Reading Variant was mostly like that. Why mostly, you ask? Because what actually happens is that you *THINK* you've already figured it out and know exactly what's going on, but in actual fact you *DON'T* and then when the big secret is finally revealed you're like: "OMG WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT"

That was actually the best way to explain it so...

The twist is mind-blowing. I'm still not convinced I understand all of what happened exactly, but I'm a little bit to scared to ask somebody. The tagline for the novel, "Trust no one," is perfect and extremely accurate. Thinking back to the ending, especially. *shudders*

Also the love interest/romance with Jane freaked me out. I think nearly as much as it did Benson. O.O

Robison Wells has created a something so twisted and dark, a world where it's easy to get lost and hard to get out. Variant is so addictive, with intense, enthralling writing that draws you in and leaves you curious to know just what the school is hiding. Every word leaves you wanting more and the novel as a whole delivers the whole package. I say the whole package, but really, there is something missing. The answers to the MEGA-HUGE-GINORMOUS cliffhanger. SEQUEL, PLEASE, MR WELLS!


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