February 24, 2012

Book Review: Variant by Robison Wells

On Fridays I like step back and make sure that I am addressing boy readers.  It's so easy to review and highlight books for girls, but I also teach boys, so I need to make sure to find books for them!

Today I have a book review.

Title: Variant
Author: Robison Wells
Published: 10/4/2011
Book Obtained: Purchased
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.

My Thoughts

I went into this book with high hopes because the premise sounded so promising.  I’m happy to report it didn’t disappoint.  There were a few weaknesses, but over-all I really liked this book. 

Plot:  the action starts pretty much right away from the time Benson walks into the school.  There was definitely no lag time there.  For readers who need something fast paced this book is perfect for them! Not only does the action start, but the tension is there right away too, because you see right away how the kids are in groups with an uneasy alliance.  It’s clear that they’ve worked through things, but it feels like it could all fall apart pretty quickly.  From that start the tension and mystery continues to build.  Benson can’t help himself from snooping around and questioning things he should leave alone.  What I liked what that he found answers, but those answers also brought more questions and an increasing uneasiness.  So many times I wanted to tell him to stop and leave it alone! But of course I also wanted to know what was happening. Who was keeping them there? Why? How long had it been happening?  I was kept guessing and wondering right up to the very end.

Characters: I liked Benson, but sometimes his actions seemed a little out of the blue.  Although I liked how quick the tension started and how much Benson pushed to know the truth it sometimes felt a little too quick.  He immediately wanted out without hardly knowing anything.  I guess a bit more of a settle-in period would’ve made his determination seem less forced.  The cast of other characters were good.  I could picture the different groups – how they dressed and acted – each was distinct which was good.  With as many different characters as there were it could’ve gotten confusing.  What I also liked was the strong girl characters.  It was a great balance between the boys and them.

Final Thought:  Lots of tension, clues and questions.
Best stick-with-you image:  Benson with Jane outside at the dance. Can’t say any more than that!
Best for readers who: Liked books like The Maze Runner
Best for Ages: 11+

For the Guys? Ab. So. Lutely! 


  1. I put this one down as having huge appeal for boys too! Loved the crazy twists this one took (and that image - hard to forget).

  2. Glad you weren't disappointed. This is on my TBR list.

  3. Variant is so crazy! I absolutely agree that it would be an awesome choice for boys who like The Maze Runner series. Didn't the big reveal after the dance just Blow Your Mind??? And the last few pages totally knocked my socks off. I didn't think I was that into Variant, until the very end. Now I can't wait to see what happens next!