Book Review: Variant

Variant (Variant #1)
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 2011
Page Count: 373
Source: Amazon Vine UK
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

I thought the premise for this book was really interesting. A boy with no family or friends to speak of seeks to leave his most recent foster family through applying for a scholarship at an exclusive private school. He gets the place and heads off, hoping for friends and stability. 

Almost as soon as Benson arrives at Maxfield Academy he realizes that he has made a mistake. The walls are far too imposing, the fence is topped with razor wire, and the minute the front door to the school opens, two students burst out and try to chase down the car he arrived in, which is high tailing it out of there. 

Benson finds out he has voluntarily walked into a maximum security prison of a school. There are lessons, but the students deliver them. In fact, they do all the chores. A mysterious authority gives out points for work and punishments for rule breaking... detention is something no one ever comes back from. 

Under the oppressive atmosphere, Benson tries to make friends and figure out a way to escape - something which no one seems to have ever done to any success, although many have died trying. He also wants to know why he is imprisoned... it is a heck of a secret. 

I didn't really connect with any of the characters at all, and I found Benson quite selfish, but the mystery kept me going. It would be fair to say that I was quite stunned at the truth when it was revealed; it is a totally stellar twist and I totally didn't see it coming. That really raised the stakes for me and I was then totally hooked. 

I wouldn't say that this is one to rush to get to, but it was a fun read and the twist is one of the best I've read. It certainly has me interested in the sequel now, whereas I would not have been before the truth was revealed. My hope for the next one is that the characters all gain a little more depth and a few shades of gray.  

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.


  1. Having read this novel I completely understand what you are saying. I think the mystery was really good but I connect with Benson because like him he just wanted to escape the academy. I find the premise really good, I was exasperated with the ending just because it's a cliffhanger XD the next book Feedback comes out *checks Goodreads* October which I'm looking forward on reading. Great review~

    We Fancy Books

  2. Thanks for the info about the sequel Jay. :)


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