Thursday, October 20, 2011

Variant by Robison Wells

Variant by Robison Wells
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen

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. - Goodreads.com

When I first got this book, I had absolutely no expectations.  I had read the blurb, of course, and the summary was so intriguing that I was definitely looking forward to reading the book.  I did not expect to fall in love with it!  I finished it all of two minutes ago and couldn't wait to write my review for it.  I'm not sure what to praise first.

This was one of those books that just grabs you from the very first sentence, takes you on an absolute roller-coaster ride of constant, relentless suspense, and doesn't let go, not even with the last sentence.  I read this story in one sitting with very few breaks, because I truthfully didn't want to put off reading a single page.  I had to know what happened next.  There was very little "down time" in the book.  It was constant...taking you from one breathtaking event to another. 

The characters were real, honest, sympathetic, and you just couldn't help but love them. Especially Benson.  This is one smart guy, brave, but smart enough not to be stupidly brave when bravery won't work.  So much of the time you see a good character make a really stupid decision trying to be brave. Not this guy.  He knew when to back off and live to fight another day.  He knew how to keep things to himself and make smart choices.  You had to admire him.  The other characters, even the bad ones, were so well drawn that I could imagine them so clearly.  You also had to feel sympathy for the bad ones because it seemed they were misguided. 

When the "big reveal" comes about halfway through the book, where Benson finally discovers a small piece of what might be happening around him, I was utterly floored.  I never in a million years expected it.  And when the last big secret is revealed, I didn't expect that either.  The author did an awesome job planting doubts in your head and yet still managing to surprise you.

This story was brilliantly plotted, beautifully written and was so suspenseful that you can't soon forget it.  It had me right up until the end, and even now I am still in suspense.  There is obviously going to be a sequel and I can't believe I have to wait for however many months, or a year, to read what happens next. 

Read this story!  I dare you not to love it!!
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