Benson Fisher was tired of getting bounced around from foster family to foster family. Never having roots throughout his childhood he wanted to settle down, make friends, and finish out high school like a normal 17 year old. So he applied to Maxfield Academy. Maxfield Academy sounded great on paper, but once Benson arrived he realized he should have been careful what he wished for.
Robison Wells’, Variant, takes you inside the stone walls and fences of Maxfield Academy. Benson was used to high schools with gangs, and fist fights. He was used to having to stand up for himself. He had no friends, no family, and no one to watch his back. He thought Maxfield Academy would be a pleasant break from the norm. Upon arriving at Maxfield Academy, Benson learns that this school is unlike all others. There are no teachers, no test, no grades, and no way out. Immediately, Benson knows he must escape.
Benson’s dreams have been crushed. He would give anything to have the freedom to do whatever he wanted, and he can at Maxfield, as long as he stays on the school’s grounds… and follows the school’s rules. The first person Benson meets is Becky. She informs him of the rules, but the rest Benson will have to figure out for himself. He is given a wrist watch containing a personalized chip. This chip will unlock the doors Benson is allowed through. If he doesn’t have access, the door will remain close. The catch is that the school has a mind of its own. It chooses when to allow access and when not to.
In addition to the crazy rules, and the temperamental school, Benson is forced to join a gang. The gangs consist of Society, Havoc, and Variant. Society’s loyalty to the school is frightening. Havoc’s drive to overcome obstacles may be helpful, but is not directed towards the school. Variant is the only gang left. If Benson has to choose, he knows the members of Variant have the desire to escape.
After living with Variant, and the other gangs for a while Benson starts to feel like he has made friends. Benson met Jane, and starts to see why people haven’t tried to escape. The food is good, the classes are easy, and they get to play paintball every few days. His classmates are all foster kids, loner children with nowhere else to go. However, Benson can’t shake the desire to get away from all the cameras and microchips.
The more Benson wants to get out, the more the school fights back. Until one night when Benson discovers something that will change the school forever. He learns the truth. The problem now is that he can trust no one. Now he has to come up with a way to show the rest of Variant, and to escape.
Robison Wells does an excellent job creating the world inside a nontraditional high school. The issues are the same with some much needed pizazz. This book does not take place in the future, but is unlike any book about high school I have ever read. It really has it all; action, adventure, and of course some romance. Plus it ends with a phenomenal cliff hanger. Feedback, the sequel to Variant comes out in October. Trust me you will want to continue the journey with Benson Fisher.