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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Variant by Robison Wells

Title: Variant
Author: Robison Wells
ISBN: 9780062026088
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: October 18, 2011
Page #: 375
Source: ARC from the publisher @ BEA

Summary (subject to change with final draft):
"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 surrounded by a razor-wire fence, where video cameras monitor his every move - and where breaking the rules equals death. When he stumbles upon the school's real secret, he realizes that escape may be impossible.

In this pulse-pounding dystopian thriller, Robison Wells artfully blends the action of Gone with the tension and suspense of The Maze Runner and Lord of the Flies. The result is a story that is unpredictable and hauntingly real."
First Lines:

(subject to change with final draft)
"'This isn't one of those scare-you-straight schools, is it?' I asked Ms. Vaughn, as we passed through the heavy chain-link gate. The fence was probably twelve feet tall, topped with a spool of razor wire, like the kind on repo lots and prisons."
Page 1

I know that the description lists this book as dystopian, but I'm not sure that's how I would classify it. The story takes place within this school where the students are being watched and are being punished according to crazy rules. So the dystopian society is inside the school (or perhaps the people running the place), but it's set in today's world. That makes it a little more difficult to classify, but I'll go with it.

Okay, so imagine that you got accepted to this amazing school and they were giving you a full scholarship. You've been in foster care all your life and nothing has ever gone right for you. Of course you jump at the chance to go to this wonderful new life. Only to find out that when you get there, things are not exactly as you would expect. There are no teachers, no adults... just a bunch of kids who have separated themselves into gangs. You'd want out, right? The only problem is that you're locked in - and to attempt escape is punishable by death. Crazy, right?

The more Benson finds out about this school, the more he tries to plan his escape. The classes are barely that and they are required to play paintball at any time. It's as though they are a part of some huge experiment to see how they survive on their own. And when he starts to find out some of the secrets... that's when things really start to go down.

I got seriously sucked into this story. Enough that I just sat down and read most of it today. It pulls you in with the action of paintball and fighting strategies. It's also interesting to think of how they have segregated themselves into these gangs. I can't even imagine where I'd place myself if I realized what was going on. You spend a lot of the book trying to figure out the end game for the people watching the students. They are made to do some crazy things - and you can't help but wonder why they are doing those things.

I promise not to ruin the ending for you. I totally didn't see it coming, though. There were a lot of "hang on, what?!" moments toward the ending there. I also found myself saying "oh no! oh no!" throughout the last, like, 100 pages. It's craziness. Not to mention that there is a HU.MON.GOUS. cliffhanger. Now that I've finished the book, I think I'm more confused than I was during the story. But trust me when I say I will definitely be reading the next book!!

Those that love dystopian novels and action/adventure stuff will really get into this one. There's almost non-stop action and lots of conspiracy talk. I think boys especially will be glad they got their hands on this one. It's an amazing story of life and loss and friendships that will have you second guessing the whole time.

I will absolutely be recommending this book. I think lots of readers will love it and I cannot wait to hear their reactions. I need people to discuss the ending with - it's just that insane. :) I believe this is the first YA book for this author (please correct me if I'm wrong). And I am excited to see what else this he has to offer in the future! Well, including the second book to this novel - as I'm now in need of knowing what happened.
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