- Series: Variant (Book 1)
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (August 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062026097
- ISBN-13: 978-0062026095
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 296 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Variant Paperback – August 28, 2012
"The Other Woman" by Sandie Jones
“The Other Woman is an absorbing thriller with a great twist. A perfect beach read.” ― Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of "The Great Alone" Pre-order today
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“An intense journey with some of the most shocking twists and turns I’ve ever read.” (Pittacus Lore, #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Am Number Four)
“A chilling, masterful debut. With its clever premise, quick pace, and easy-to-champion characters, Wells’ story is a fast, gripping read with a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Variant is a compelling story on so many levels. I loved it! The twist behind it all is my favorite since Ender’s Game.” (James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner)
“An exciting, edge-of-your-seat read that combines psychological themes from works like Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game in a truly unique way. Variant should join the ranks of today’s must-read science fiction and fantasy series. A highly recommended addition to any collection for teens.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (starred review))
“Benson’s account unfolds in a speedy, unadorned first person. Hard to put down from the very first page, this fast-paced novel answers only some of the questions it poses, holding some of the most tantalizing open for the next installment in a series that is anything but ordinary.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Good old-fashioned paranoia taken to giddy extremes. Take Veronica Roth’s Divergent, strip out the angst, add a Michael Grant-level storytelling pace, and you have this very satisfying series starter.” (Booklist)
“Fans seeking a fast-paced, action-heavy read will find this generates a lot of excitement.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“Filled with heart-racing action and suspense. An impressive debut with wide appeal, especially for fans of Alexander Gordon Smith’s Lockdown and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner.” (School Library Journal)
About the Author
Robison Wells is also the author of Blackout, Variant, and Feedback. Variant was a Publishers Weekly Best Book and a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Robison lives in the Rocky Mountains in a house not too far from elk pastures. His wife, Erin, is a better person than he will ever be, and their three kids cause mischief and/or joy.
Top customer reviews
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Here's the main idea of the book (no spoilers): Benson Fisher, a kid who was formerly in the Foster Care Program, signs up for a scholarship to Maxfield Academy, a private school in New Mexico. He has no family, no close friends, and no one to confide in. No one will miss him. Once he gets to Maxfield, he is informed that he can not leave. Ever. There are 4 main rules: No violent fighting, no refusing punishments, no sex, and no trying to escape. If you break one of these big four rules, you get detention. When you go to detention, you don't come back. From the very get-go, Benson tells himself that he's going to escape, but many people have tried that already. They never made it. This school has a fishy feeling to it. Where are all the adults? What's behind that one locked door next to the incinerator? Why doesn't anyone fight back and try to escape like he is? Benson asks all these questions to himself over and over, but nothing seems to make since. But then something strange happens to Jane, his non-official girlfriend, and he doesn't know who he can trust anymore. He can't escape on his own, he already knows that. But can he trust enough people to join him in his escape? Who knows if they'll just end up turning on him at the last moment. "'Don't listen to Isaiah or Oakland', he said firmly. 'We can't get out of here.'"
At almost 18-years old, Benson Fisher just wanted a place he could belong and feel safe. After moving from foster family to foster family (33 since he entered the system at age 5), he really just wanted to stay in one place. So, when the opportunity came to apply for a scholarship at Maxfield Academy, Benson figured what did he have to lose. And when he was accepted, well, he was more than ready for a new start.
But, Maxfield Academy isn't exactly what it seems. The school is surrounded by a chain link fence and inside that a massive brick wall.There are no adults; the students run the day to day operations. Each new student joins a "gang". There are three: the Society (they handle security and administration & medical), Havoc (they handle food and groundskeeping) and the Variants (the V's) (they handle janitorial & maintenance). And there are four big rules: no sex, no refusing punishments, no violent fights & no trying to escape. The worst punishment is detention, but no one wants to talk about that.
LOVED this book. I can't recommended it enough. I love any dystopian fiction pretty much, so I guess I am sort of biased. But this book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I never wanted to put it down. I was reading with my 11-year old son, so I didn't have much of a choice or I probably would have finished in a couple of days. He loved it too (he is in 6th grade).
Twice this book had me saying WHAT???? I turned the pages back and reread to make sure I didn't miss something. Honestly, two big twists that I didn't even see coming. My only problem now is I'm dying to read the sequel but my son wants to read the next Janitors book first. So.... I will have to wait. But not for long.
Anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction. Or novels with unexpected twists. This one is on Florida's Sunshine State Young Readers Award nominee list for 6-8th graders. But trust me, adults will enjoy it too! Several 5th graders at my school are currently reading it and loving it too!
This is the best way to describe Variant. Take some of the darker mentalities of the critically acclaimed Hunger Games series. Add a dose of philosophy from Lord of the Flies. Now blend in some of the Battle School aspects of the classic Ender's Game. Throw in lots of tension and paranoia courtesy of the Canadian psychological horror/thriller film Cube. And last but not least tie this all together with the controversial Stanford Prison Experiment. Alone any one of these themes could overwhelm a lesser author. Robison Wells, it appears, has some seriously sick writing chops. Not only does Mr. Wells blend all these together into a fantastic story but he finds a way to transcend the building blocks and create something wholly his own.
Benson Fisher is a loner. He is a foster kid who has never spent long in one place. He is a fighter. But deep down all he really wants is to be accepted. Benson wants to have the "real" high school experience. Play for a sports team, hang out with friends, even date. That's how Benson ends up applying for Maxfield Academy. Maxfield seems like any other private school from the pamphlets, uniforms and all. Of course once Benson reaches Maxfield it quickly becomes clear that it is anything but normal. Benson is an immediately likable character. From the start he realizes that things are not as they should be and throughout the novel he never stops thinking of ways to escape. Benson is a trouble maker and this is reinforced by the personalities of the other students of Maxfield. Without the presence of adults the kids have formed into gangs for the sake of survival. There is the Society, upstanding boys and girls who wish only to obey and enforce the rules and protect the status quo. Havoc, kids who view the lack of adult supervision as a free pass for fun. And the V's (short for Variants) who are bound by their desire to escape. The gangs and characters all have unique personalities that provide a believable civilization inside this prison like school. There are so many layers of complexity to this school run by the students but I don't want to ruin any of the cool surprises.
Variant is extremely tense. There is a heavy degree of paranoia that permeates the novel. Cameras and microphones keep tabs on the students with death being the ultimate punishment for disobedience. The exact nature of the containment of the children is unknown but the kids have their own theories. Some say that it is a giant experiment and the students themselves are just rats in a cage. Others suspect that Maxfield is a training ground for super soldiers. Whatever the reason, no one has ever pulled off a successful escape and kids have died trying. I think this is really what separates Variant from books that came out in my youth. Variant deals with mature subject matter. Wells makes no attempt to dumb down the story or tone down the seriousness of the situation. Wells treats young adults the way they wish to be treated: as young adults. The book features violence, though nothing that would be considered too shocking by the current generation. The real maturity comes from the philosophy involved. Wells sneaks a peak at the banality of evil, and really looks at what ordinary people are capable of in extraordinary situations. Like Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game, Variant gives young readers and exciting story that won't patronize their intelligence. At the same time this book is hardly for young adults alone. Anyone can enjoy this well written thriller. There is action and romance, suspense and mystery.
This book is ten times the book that The Hunger Games is. I honestly believe that given enough attention Variant can easily eclipse the titans of YA fiction. Buy this for your kids, especially if you have trouble getting them to read. Buy this for yourself if you want a nonstop thrill ride that will keep you reading late into the night. I agree with Publishers Weekly that this is hands down one of the best books of 2011. Enjoy!