Review: VARIANT by Robison Wells

Variant (Variant, #1) 
Robison Wells
373 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 26th, 2011
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: LOVED

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now 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.

But 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.

    When Benson Fisher gets a scholarship to Maxfield Academy he thinks that his sucky life has finally taken a turn for the best. For him this was a chance to start a new life in a Ivy League school where all the kids drove BMW’s and Mercedes. After all what could be worse than having no family or friends? Nothing right?. He was wrong, Maxfield Academy is a school where the students are trapped inside a razor wire fence, a school where video cameras monitor the students every single move, and where breaking the rules means death. Plus what kind of school has no teachers and forces to cook, clean, and teach themselves? Despite all this, Benson finally begins to settle down, and when he realizes he just might be able to get used to this, he stumbles upon the schools real secret. And he realizes that escape may be impossible.

    This book is good enough to rival Maze Runner. Although it’s not much of a dystopian like it says on the cover, it really is thriller. Sometimes Benson made me laugh but most of the time I felt angry right along with him. You would too if you were stuck in some ancient building.When I first started reading the book I thought it would be a little boring since the character is seventeen, but to my surprise the book is really for middle school kids. I’ve always thought that The Enemy by Charlie Higson was my favorite thriller but I think I might have a new favorite. The only thing I didn’t understand was a few parts during the battle at the end. I would explain it some-more but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. But other than that minor dilemma, Variant was a good read and I think it deserves five stars.

    Even though this is Robison Wells debut novel he is a fantastic writer. He is able to entrance you and make you feel as if you were living the experience with Benson. Variant was absolutely fantastic and I think everyone should go pre-order it now.

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This review was written by my 13 year old brother, Calidude! :)


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.

September 30, 2011
October 1, 2011



  1. Reply


    October 1, 2011

    Cool this sounds like a good book. I didn't know it was for younger teens though – but so was Harry Potter! :)

    Xpresso Reads

  2. Reply


    October 1, 2011

    I've heard this one compared to Maze Runner a few times now. To me, that's a great recommendation. Awesome review — nicely done.

  3. Reply

    Gina @ My Precious

    October 1, 2011

    What a great review. I've been looking at this book through netgalley. I've not gotten around to pulling the trigger to request it yet, though. I have too many other book from NG to read ahead of this one. But now, after reading this it sounds like something I'd really enjoy. I need to hurry up and get some reading done so I can request it. Books with male narrators are kinda rare. I'm glad your brother enjoyed this one so much!

  4. Reply

    Carrie at In the Hammock Blog

    October 1, 2011

    i'm glad to hear that it's not totally dystopian, b/c that's not really my fave subgenre. thanks for the awesome review!!

  5. Reply

    ashelynn hetland

    October 1, 2011

    fantastic review! I loved the Maze Runner, so I'm excited to read this one!

  6. Reply

    Mimi Valentine

    October 2, 2011

    This book sounds SO INTENSE! I get chills from just reading the blurb, and your review only makes me want to read the book even more! I haven't read the Maze Runner yet (although it's on my TBR list), but I've heard awesome things about that one too, and this one must be really good to rival it! :)

    Awesome review, Calidude!

  7. Reply


    October 2, 2011

    I haven't read The Maze Runner yet, but I have it on my tbr list! This one sounds very good. A fantastic thriller? Sounds like I need to check this book out!

  8. Reply

    A Canadian Girl

    October 5, 2011

    I don't read too many thrillers but I've got this one on my wishlist. It's good to know that it lives up to its potential and can actually appeal to younger readers as well. I can't wait to find out what the school's real secret is.

  9. Reply

    Amanda Welling

    November 21, 2011

    Great review. I'll have to look into this one more!

  10. Reply

    Denise Z

    November 21, 2011

    I have to admit I have not read any books yet in the “dystopian” genre. I recently purchased The Hunger Games so I can see what all the fuss is about LOL Variant sounds like a really good read, although when I read it my family might not thank you for the recommendation, as I too get caught up in the emotions of the characters LOL Thanks for sharing your review today. Variant is certainly on the radar and heading on over to the wishlist:)

  11. Reply


    November 23, 2011

    I was surprised by this book. I didn't really know what to expect. It was surprisingly good! I wish it would have given more information towards the end. I guess that's what sequels are for. Great review.

  12. Reply


    January 31, 2012

    This book sounds fantastic! Thanks for such a great review…I'm putting this on the top of my TBR list ASAP :-)

  13. Reply

    Jaime Lester

    October 10, 2012

    I haven't read Maze Runner yet, but I have read plenty of reviews for it and its companions. If Variant is as good as I have heard Maze Runner is, it is definitely a book I need to read. And I love the cover. Thanks for the review!

  14. Reply

    Alyssa Susanna

    February 5, 2013

    I haven't heard much about this book, even now! I should check it out! There aren't that many male authors in YA that I've noticed, so I may look this one up. Great review! Nice that you enjoyed it so much :)