Variant

Variant

New meaning is given to detention when instead of a mild punishment: it means your death sentence.  Benson Fisher is unaware of the secret workings of Maxfield Academy when he applies for a scholarship to the prestigious private school.  However, when he first arrives, Benson notices the absence of adults and the strange power structure of the school.  Each student chooses a gang to join and each gang is responsible for one aspect of running the school.  The V’s take care of maintenance while the Havoc members feed each student and the Society members are in charge of discipline and detention.  Benson quickly realizes that this is not the dream school he envisioned, but it seems that escape is impossible in this dystopian society.  Readers will remain on the edge of their seats as they plow through this thriller trying to figure out the motivations behind those that run Maxfield Academy.  378 pages


 

Recommended by Carrie Shaurette, Librarian, New York, USA

*******

 

Benson has lived in over thirty foster homes in the Pittsburgh area.  He's tired of it all, and wants out, wants some normalcy.  That's why he was so surprised when Ms. Vaughn came.  Filling out a scholarship to Maxfield Academy on his own, Benson was happy to learn he had been accepted and now he and Ms. Vaughn were on their way there.

As they pull up to this prestigious school, Benson is filled with anticipation.  Within the first hour there, he knows something is not right.  The door that closed behind him was locked.  Becky, the first person he met for initiation, is acting strangely.  And the kids beating on the windows?  What was that all about?

It doesn't take long for Benson to realize that he's trapped.  There are no teachers, no adults.  Just three factions of teens - Society, whose members run security; Havoc, whose members run the cafeteria; and Variant....those that do the maintenance.  Benson is being coerced to join Society and Havoc, but he places himself in Variant's group, all the while planning on how to get out....

Stories begin to emerge about those that try to escape.  No one ever has, according to those that have been at Maxfield Academy the longest.  But why would anyone want to leave?  They have food, warmth, education, which is much better than being in foster care or homeless.  But it doesn't dissuade Benson from plotting, even if it means facing detention....which no one ever comes back from.  But how to escape?  There are cameras everwhere, and the schedules vary - sometimes going to class at 7 am, sometimes at 10 am. Big brother is watching and listening to every action and word.  The Iceman is always there, handing out punishments and rewards on-screen, knowing exactly what's happening.  Benson has no escape.  Until.....

Lord of the Flies...meet Big Brother.  Wells serves out an excellent YA novel with twists and turns that the readers won't expect in a science fiction novel.  Wells's writing will take you from the first page to the last with a big surprise right when you least expect it.  He creates a dystopian world set in the real world, call it a world within a world, and provokes the reader to either love of hate those who want to stay or go.  For those guys who want a great thriller comparable to Kevin Brooks' Being, be sure to put this one in their hands.  This is just the first in a trilogy, and I can't WAIT for the next one (I have a love/hate relationship with cliff hanger endings)!!!!  Recommended for high school.

Recommended by:  Naomi Bates, Librarian, Texas USA

 

 

 

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