A month or so ago, one of my Young Women left the library copy of Variant in my car after an activity. I've heard tons and tons about it and follow Robison Wells on twitter (which, if you don't, you really should. Very entertaining) so I snagged it and started it that night. Alas, she figured out pretty early on where she'd left it and sent her mom after it. And then a bunch of stuff in life happened, like being asked to read other books for review, taking on editing projects, not to mention writing stuff of my own, as well as two kids and a house that seems like its always messy. So finally, after far too long, I checked Variant out for myself. I started it (again) last night. I finished it this afternoon.
The Point of the Plot
Benson Fisher arrives at Maxfield Academy hoping for a much better life than the one he left behind. Too bad, because Maxfield is FAR from what it's cracked up to be. The students are prisoners, left to fend for themselves in a society run by teenagers. And breaking the rules is dangerous. Like you'll-end-up-dead dangerous.
Basically Believable: ****
You'd think that plopping a bunch of teenagers down in a school with no adults would practically equal highly-unlikely-situation. But there's a well-written, totally plausible explanation for everything. The plot moves fast, which I LOVED. The tone and theme reminds of of James Dashner's Maze Runner, but I have to be honest and say I liked Variant a lot more. I'll be fair. That may be because I listened to Maze Runner and read Variant--and I obviously can't listen as fast as I can read, so that may explain why I felt like Maze Runner strung things out, while Variant got right to the point fast. Benson--have loved this name even since before the book, but I expect that if/when I name a child this, Mr. Wells will probably assume it's in honor of him. ;)--wastes no time in questioning, laying low, I'll-take-a-few-days-and-figure-this-out attitude. It's a page turner.
Charismatic Characters: *****
It's rare that I say I loved ALL the characters. But I did! Even Becky, which I'm glad I didn't pass her over right at the first. The array of personalities is awesome for a YA book. No cookie-cutter people here, which is saying something considering--I'll stop and not spoil it for you. They're all interesting and I wanted to know everybody's story. Even the crazy ones like Oakland and Mouse, and even Isaiah. (Which on second thought, I didn't so much love him, but I don't think I was meant to.)
Yay or Yuck, The Final Word: *****
Yay seems really lackluster for this book, but I don't want to overdo it. Go get this book. Buy it. Check it out. Steal it out of someone's car. Whatever you have to do. I'm sure Robison Wells would agree with whatever it took, and so would I. It's not complicated, yet so complex. It's great. And I will buy Feedback, the sequel, the moment it comes out. Seriously.
Buy "Variant" here.
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What do you think?
I'm so close to 1000 followers on Twitter! Follow, enter here, and tweet about it to win a copy after I get 1000 followers! a Raffle...
I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.