Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Lord of the Flies was an intriguing book to me, and because of that, I love to pick up young adult books that remind me of it. Gone, by Michael Grant, was one of those, and Variant, a novel by Robison Wells, is another.

Variant kept me interested purely through suspense. It's a dystopian, somewhat futuristic novel about a double-walled private school for teenagers. Benson is sure that his sad life moving from foster home to foster home is over; he's applied for and received a scholarship to Maxfield Academy. But things go from weird to horrific quickly. When he arrives at the school, he finds it heavily secured under lock and key with cameras everywhere, but what's worse is that there are no adults to be found. Maxfield is run by kids. They cook, clean, repair, and teach the classes. Certain groups have monopolies on the good jobs, including security. The only adults they see are the lady who brings the new kids by car and Iceman, who appears on a screen to give them commands. The scariest thing of all is that broken rules have severe punishments, including detention, which nobody comes back from...ever. Benson has just entered a prison, and he's determined to get out, even if it means risking his life.

As the horrors build up, Benson realizes just how much danger they are all in and, as the book's tagline aptly puts it, that he can "trust no one."

Pure entertaining suspense. I really liked this book...until the very last page. Wouldn't you know, it's only Book 1, so there was an ending of sorts but not the one I was hoping for. Worse, the end totally confused me. I must have reread that last page ten times, looking for what I'd missed. And every time I read it, I found another interpretation. I can't tell you about it because it's a huge spoiler...well, I think it is, at least, from what I can tell, it's that vague. But for certain, you don't want to read the last page first if you are the type of despicable person who does that (ha, ha, just kidding, but you are weird).

This book only comes out in October, so I'm not sure if I can go online yet to see what other people think of the end. Regardless, I couldn't tell you even if I found out. So, all I can say for the book is that if you like suspense, with endings akin to something the TV show Lost used to produce, this book is great. But I think Lost endings never had me quite as lost as Variant. Check it out for yourself, and then we'll discuss (in private, of course, wouldn't want to spoil anything).

This book has violence most appropriate to age 15 and older.

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