Published: October 2011
Audio copy: Overdrive
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.
Variant, starts out as a fairly regular boarding school story, but within a very few pages, the reader realises that something is very wrong. It was interesting for me to see how the 'herd mentality' surfaces - how we accept things at face value and don't question as long as we are comfortable.
All it takes is Benson to question the morality behind the school and the problems start. Natural leaders surface and finally people act together and try to escape. I loved the big question that no-one seemed to be able to answer as to why the school was set up in the first place. There is a major twist in the story, that ratchets up the tension as the story progresses which was very well done. Then just as you think everything is going to be ok, there is an OMG ending that made me want to scream. Perhaps it was because I was listening, rather than reading, but I certainly was surprised where the story ended.
This was a great audio version of a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and I am looking forward to seeing where Mr. Wells takes the story. This would also be a good title for those who enjoyed Maze Runner or Gone, or Lord of the Flies (yes I know there has to be someone out there who enjoyed that book, besides me).