Variant by Robison Wells is a book I probably would have completely ignored if not for the review Charlotte for it over at Charlotte's Library. I'm a sucker for boarding school stories and when there is suspense and strange goings on thrown in I will definitely be all over it.
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
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.
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.
I liked Benson. A lot. He is not a bad kid. He does not rejoice in being a rebel. But when the rules are stupid, things are clearly not right, and he feels he's being used he isn't just going to go with the flow. He challenges and pushes. He can't fall into line and assimilate as easily to his new home as the other students have when it is very clearly not right. The other students don't like his challenging and pushing. He makes things hard and uncomfortable. And this is really not an easy thing for him to do because there are craaazy shenanigans going on at Maxfield.
First and foremost Variant is a mystery. What is the school's goal? Who runs it? WHY???? It keeps you on your toes for sure. Wells did an excellent job of building tension and suspense through the novel. He makes you as the reader a little comfortable in this world, just like Benson, freaked but willing to accept it to a certain degree. Then suddenly the entire game changes. The tension increases from there to its inevitable breaking point where the action goes into overdrive. The descriptions used kept me immersed in the story and eager to get to the next page faster than fast. We were on a road trip to a wedding while I was reading and I may have shushed my husband. Errr...more than once.
The ending is a cliffhanger. For those of you are not too fond of those, rest easy because the sequel, Feedback, just came out this months. Now to get my hands on it....