Book Review: Variant by Robison Wells

Variant by Robison Wells
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: October 2011
Pages: 384
Source: ARC provided by publisher
For: Review
Series: Variant, Book 1

When Benson gets a scholarship to a remote private school in New Mexico, he thinks it's the beginning of a new life.  But when he arrives at a school with no adults, gangs of students, and no way out, he is definitely not prepared.  As the mysteries of this school just keep piling up, Benson is determined to escape, no matter the cost. 

Things I Liked:
What an action-packed and twisty story!  I loved how the plot built the tension slowly and carefully, how Benson wondered about everything and everyone.  I was enthralled by the different attitudes and personalities that were portrayed by students all in the same position.  I was pretty much blown away by the surprises and stunned at everything that happened, not to mention how it happened.  This is a surprising read with lots of action, suspense, and twists - not to mention psychological bending that makes you wonder if you're going crazy too!  I think this one will have a lot of boy-appeal and pretty much anyone who likes crazy action and surprise endings will love it.  (Side note: not sure how to fit this into the genre mold - not exactly dystopian, but kind of a little bit...)

Things I Didn't Like:
The characters didn't feel very developed.  The story definitely took a front stage on this one and the characters were more just a part of the action.  Benson was pretty well developed, but the minors felt very flat.  I liked Becky because she actually seemed to have some character, but most of the others just didn't have that spark.  I think Wells has a lot of potential and the writing is pretty good, but I wanted a little something more than story.  Still, couldn't quite believe what was going on and near the end my jaw was aching from being dropped so many times.  Read this one when you want something unexpected! 

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

s-factor: ! 

surprisingly few

mrg-factor: none 
just some kissing

v-factor: ->-> 
some gory fist fighting and the like

Overall rating: **** 

Which do you like more - books about story or books about characters (if you had to pick between them, of course)?

Looking for more dystopian goodness?  Be sure to stop at Presenting Lenore's Dystopian February celebration.

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