Author: Robinson Wells.
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. (Published summary)
Eh. A lot of set up, a lot of questions raised – but almost none of them are answered by the end of the book. All the characters are wondering what the heck’s going on for most of the story and so is the reader, but nobody has figured out. A cliffhanger is one thing; Variant felt like the first half of a book. Tying into that, most of the characters feel underdeveloped. We don’t get a lot of backstory for any of them, nor understand why they do what they do.
Sexual Content: One kiss.
Language: 11 scatological terms, 4 d***, 4 hell, 1 derogatory term, 1 exclamation of ‘screw it’.
Violence: One fistfight – bloody noses, scraped up. Multiple games of paintball, which is painful and bruising (some intentional bombarding in this way). Gang of kids ties kid up and drags him off to ‘detention’. (There are rumors that kids die in detention; none of them ever come back.) Characters are informed that a girl is dead, hit by a car (very suspicious circumstances.) Two characters attack two other teens with lead pipes, beat them up quite badly. One student is shot non-fatally. Electrified fence shocks one character. Fighting between multiple teenagers and robots: hand-to-hand, shears, paintballs, the threat of a gun.