In Variant by Robinson Wells, Benson Fisher is a seventeen year old foster kid looking for a way out of the system. He believes he 's found that way when he s accepted to Maxfield Academy, a snooty rich school in New Mexico, but when he arrives he realizes he totally wrong. There are no adults. Not one. The whole school is run by students. As soon as he gets there Benson is told that he must join a gang. That is he must if he' s going last very long. He has three options: Society- follow all the rules, handle administrative tasks, keep your nose up in the air; Havoc- the schools version of a street gang, handles the kitchens and grounds keeping duties; Variant- everyone else, handles janitorial work. There s only one really important rule at Maxfield, don' t try to escape. The students aren' t allowed to leave, not that they could get out anyway, at least, no one ever has. When Benson discovers what' s really going on at Maxfield he is determined to leave, but how? There s one other thing. He can 't trust anyone.
I loved this book! Robinson Wells did a fantastic job of creating relatable characters. He gave you their stories and mostly allowed you to play out their decisions, whether it was which gang they joined or who they sided with in an argument. The story also carries with it a thin layer of suspense created by the complacency of the other students. You find yourself asking questions like, Why don' t they care? and How can only one of seventy-five see the problem here? The perfect structure the students created in the school is astounding. Everything s worked out so that there s no fighting. Each new student chooses a gang. Each gang has certain chores. The different gangs stay out of each other s way as much as possible, the best way for keeping peace. It' s both fascinating and a little terrifying. Not to mention the story ends on a wonderfully irritating cliff hanger that' ll leave you impatient for the sequel.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Cibolo, Texas United States of America