Variant by Robison Wells gets moving quickly. It take about four pages to learn most of what you’re going to about the main character’s back story. His name is Benson Fisher and he quickly vaults from yet another foster home to a school where…wait for it…Nothing Is As It Seems!
Maxfield Academy is surrounded by a razor wire fence. Nobody gets to escape, and those who try have reportedly gone to the dreaded, Room 101-esque place known as “Detention.”
There are three gangs. The Variants, Havoc, and The Society. The Society is a bunch is a bunch of preppy weenies (OR ARE THEY!) that reminded me of the Vigils from The Chocolate War.
Benson has to choose which one to join and they’re all yammering away so that he’ll choose them.
The students run the school. They teach the lessons. They discipline each other. From the beginning Benson suspects that it’s some giant experiment, but to what end? By whom? Like most dystopian books I’ve read, it takes a while to see just how messed up everything is, and I will say that I did not see the twist coming.
Things are just starting to really get going by the end, which was annoying until I realized that Variant is the first in a series, so it’ll pick up again this October.
YA dystopian books generally have one big reveal or suspense beat per chapter. I can’t say a whole lot more without getting into those specific reveals, which wouldn’t be as fun for you, the reader. So: I liked it, it was easy, enjoyable science fiction, and if this plot sounds remotely interesting to you, I think you’ll like it as well.
It was very nice to read something for teens that did not involve vampires or werewolves. Maybe that’s where the sequel is headed.