Variant

Variant

4.4 126
by Robison Wells
     
 

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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, where video cameras monitor his every move—and where breaking the rules equals death.

All Benson wants is to find a way out. But when he stumbles upon the real

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Overview

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, where video cameras monitor his every move—and where breaking the rules equals death.

All Benson wants is to find a way out. But when he stumbles upon the real secret the school has been hiding, he realizes that escape may be impossible.

Editorial Reviews

Pittacus Lore
“An intense journey with some of the most shocking twists and turns I’ve ever read.”
James Dashner
“Variant is a compelling story on so many levels. I loved it! The twist behind it all is my favorite since Ender’s Game.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Fans seeking a fast-paced, action-heavy read will find this generates a lot of excitement."
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Fans seeking a fast-paced, action-heavy read will find this generates a lot of excitement.”
Booklist
“Good old-fashioned paranoia taken to giddy extremes. Take Veronica Roth’s Divergent, strip out the angst, add a Michael Grant-level storytelling pace, and you have this very satisfying series starter.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Fans seeking a fast-paced, action-heavy read will find this generates a lot of excitement.”
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“Fans seeking a fast-paced, action-heavy read will find this generates a lot of excitement.”
Publishers Weekly
In a chilling, masterful debut, Wells gives the classic YA boarding school setting a Maze Runner twist, creating an academy of imprisoned teenagers who must fight to survive when the rules change daily, and the punishment for breaking those rules is death. Seventeen-year-old Benson Fisher, tired of foster homes, applies for a scholarship to Maxfield Academy in New Mexico, hoping for a fresh start. Instead, he is trapped with roughly 70 other teens divided into three factions, with no teachers, no real classes, and no chance of escape at a school overseen by the mysterious and sinister "Iceman," who doles out punishments and awards points. Though Wells doesn't provide much detail about Benson's past, his honesty and determination to escape make him a compelling protagonist, and it's easy to get drawn into his fellow students' plights as well. There are plenty of "didn't see that coming" moments and no shortage of action or violence. With its clever premise, quick pace, and easy-to-champion characters, Wells's story is a fast, gripping read with a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
“An exciting, edge-of-your-seat read that combines psychological themes from works like Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game in a truly unique way. Variant should join the ranks of today’s must-read science fiction and fantasy series. A highly recommended addition to any collection for teens.”
VOYA - Karen Jensen
Benson Foster will try anything to escape the foster care system, but when he enrolls in Maxfield Academy, he finds that he is escaping one type of hell only to be trapped in another, truly deadly, one. There are no adults at the academy; the students do everything from teaching to preparing meals and security. There are four main rules: no sex, no violent fighting, no refusing punishments, and no trying to escape. Students who break the rules are sent to detention, and they never come back. Benson is trying to find a way to escape, and along the way he finds some devastating secrets: some of the students are not who they seem to be. Variant is an exciting, edge-of-your-seat read that combines psychological themes from works like Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games and Ender's Game in a truly unique way. There are a couple of twists that are truly surprising and up the emotional ante of the story. From the moment Benson enters the academy until the very end, readers are caught in a tight, tense thriller. What is the academy and why are the students there? Wells does a good job of both universebuilding and character development, as the rules unfold and character roles become clearer. There is a slow unfolding of academy secrets that proves to be just the right pacing. In the end, Benson may escape the walls of the school but he stumbles upon an even bigger mystery. Variant should join the ranks of today's must-read science fiction and fantasy series . This is a highly recommended addition to any collection for teens. Reviewer: Karen Jensen
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Desperately seeking to escape from an abominable living situation, foster-kid Benson Fisher applies and is accepted to the elite Maxfield Academy, a boarding school in the remote wilderness of New Mexico. However, before he even sets foot on campus, he senses that something is awry. The school is surrounded by a massive brick wall and razor-wire fence and there are no teachers; video cameras monitor the students' every move; and serious infractions (attempting to escape, having sex, and violent fighting) are punishable by death. To avoid devolving into anarchy, students are divided into three gangs, and peace hangs by a tenuous thread. Unwilling to bend to the draconian will of his captors, Benson intently devises ways to escape. Adding a touch of lightness is the tender romance that he develops with a fellow student, Jane. When he stumbles upon an unimaginable secret about her that hints at the academy's true intentions, Benson knows that he must find a way out quickly, or die trying. The boy's desire to be a normal teenager, as well as his tenacious fight for survival, will resonate with readers. Variant ends with a nail-biting cliff-hanger that will have them clamoring for the next installment. In addition to being filled with heart-racing action and suspense, the novel raises thought-provoking questions about morality and social order. This is an impressive debut with wide appeal, especially for fans of Alexander Gordon Smith's Lockdown (Farrar, 2009) and James Dashner's Maze Runner (Delacorte, 2009)—Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

Wells introduces Benson Fisher, a teen in search of a "real" life instead of a long series of unwanted foster homes—but instead of the utopia he's searching for, he finds the direct opposite.

Benson thinks he's found the perfect school in Maxfield Academy, a private school in the wilds of New Mexico. Winning a scholarship with unexpected ease, he looks forward to establishing real friendships and getting a good education at last. What he finds, however, is far from normal.Within minutes of the front doors closing—and locking—behind him, he finds himself in a fight for his life. He joins a gang, the Variants, just to survive. With no adults on campus, classes are taught by fellow students, punishments are passed on by computer and nothing seems to follow a logical path. Benson decides it's time to make a run for it, until he finds out that no one makes it out of Maxfield...not alive, at any rate. Benson's account unfolds in a speedy, unadorned first person, doling information out to readers as he learns it himself.

Hard to put down from the very first page, this fast-paced novel with Stepford overtones answers only some of the questions it poses, holding some of the most tantalizing open for the next installment in a series that is anything but ordinary. (Thriller. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062026095
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/28/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
88,547
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.94(d)
Lexile:
HL640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

James Dashner
“Variant is a compelling story on so many levels. I loved it! The twist behind it all is my favorite since Ender’s Game.”
Pittacus Lore
“An intense journey with some of the most shocking twists and turns I’ve ever read.”

Meet the Author

Robison Wells is the author of Blackout and the YA science-fiction thrillers Variant and Feedback. Variant was a Publishers Weekly Best Book and a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Robison lives in the Rocky Mountains in a house not too far from elk pastures. His wife, Erin, is a better person than he will ever be, and their three kids cause mischief and/or joy.

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