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(Variant #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  22,364 ratings  ·  2,769 reviews
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 B
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by HarperTeen
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Mikayla AMAZING. It had a really intriguing plot and had a definite twist!
Kady It really depends on your maturity level. It doesn't have any major curse words. I would say middle school is the perfect age group for this book. …moreIt really depends on your maturity level. It doesn't have any major curse words. I would say middle school is the perfect age group for this book. (less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  22,364 ratings  ·  2,769 reviews

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Robison Wells
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
That's a completely unbiased rating. ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was ok

if anyone popped into my RA group looking for a book that was "not well-written, consistent, or plausible," i could hand them this book with full confidence.

and i feel bad for saying that, i do. this book means well, you can tell. the author dedicated it to his best friend erin. that's cute, right? but about thirty pages in, i started getting concerned that this was another YA book actually written by a teen author. i am not going to have another truancy experience, thank you very much. but no,
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Simple words: BLOODY BRILLIANT!!!

I've read so much of YA, and from the first page, everything is so predictable, you have an idea of the direction and what will happen at the end. Even the Dystopian novels, the main problem is X and you obviously know that the MC will survive.

But THIS. I could not for one second predict where this would go and I'm excellent at predicting what's next.

The writing served its purpose, I didn't have to skim over anything. You know how in novels sometimes the prose i
So my dog does this cute thing sometimes where he chases down a toy or ball with such intensity that he sometimes crashes into walls and furniture. After he does this he looks up at me with an expression on his face that I'd like to catch on camera without deliberately letting him get a concussion. It's a cross between 'where the fuck did that come from' and 'how did I get here again' because you see he's forgotten he was chasing a ball in the surprise of his encounter.

This book put that express
Neil (or bleed)
May 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Variant is like The Maze Runner. (And it's kinda awkward that James Dashner blurbed this book.) I mean both has the same set-up where teens are trapped in a secluded, unknown place and don't know any idea why they are there. But both are still different in many aspects, anyway. I still like Maze Runner (just the first book, not its sequels, EW!) more than this book .

In my honest opinion, there weren't much happened in the book until Benson, the main character, discovered something he didn't expe
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't think of a single reason why I shouldn't give this a five-star rating. I loved everything about it.

First of all, Variant is one original little book. Yeah, everyone says the same about all the books they read, but I definitely found Variant refreshing and unique. And I really enjoyed Benson's voice.

Variant hooked me right in since the very beginning—I couldn't put it down. I found it original, thrilling, compelling, and so easy to read. Interesting from the first page to the very last
Oct 17, 2011 rated it liked it

Well, the joke is on me apparently.

As I was racing towards the end of Variant it became very clear that the number of pages I had left to read were not going to be adequate to address the plethora of unanswered questions I had. My rising mental chorus of ”But what about...? But why...? How....? smacked straight into a four word brick wall: End of Book One.

I really thought this was a standalone book. Ha ha.

Variant is a fast-paced, fairly gripping read that slaps you with quite a doozy of a cli
This is the story of Benson Fisher and how he settles into his new life at Maxfield Academy, where there are no teachers, no grades, and only 4 rules. The school is split into three different "gangs" and these gangs have come to an agreement that will keep them at peace..most of the time. And then Benson comes across the school's real, what will he do with this information and what will the consequences of his actions be?

This book was a thriller right from the beginning. Within the fi
Wtf was that ending.

How am I supposed to go the whole weekend without getting the second book? Wtf ending was that? I think I'm hyperventilating...breathe....breathe.


An orphan boy named Benson applies for Maxfield Academy thinking it's a normal boarding school. It's not. There are no adults. Kids have to create groups to survive. No one can leave. The school is surrounded by a wall and a gate and whoever dares to cross, they never come back. Bad behavior means detention. And no one comes bac
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
4ish stars (yes I'm a little wishy-washy on this point)

Variant is one of those books that's hard to review. (Yes I know I say that a lot!).

It's a book with a First Half. Then a Second Half. And I want to judge them separately. Because by the end I couldn't put the book down, almost finishing it in a loud chinese restaurant because I was that engaged. But as much as I enjoyed the second half, I can't ignore the first half of the book.

The first half I kinda wanted to smack the main character. Have
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Review originally posted in January 2011:

I have the honor of being in Rob Well's writer's group, so I got to read the final manuscript before even the ARC was ready. This is one of the best books I've read in the last year. The main character, Benson was someone I could relate to--maybe because I teach school and he reminded me of several of my students--and the plot was compelling. I couldn't read it fast enough--yet the themes and final questions continue to haunt me--and now I'm begging to se
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the lucky people who got to read a pre-press copy.

Now that it's out, my 16YO son devoured it.

This is easily my favorite YA book of 2011. Edge-of-your seat action, twists, turns, moments where my jaw dropped and I yelled things like, "NO WAY!" and, "That DIDN'T just happen!" (But, of course, it did.)

I'd recommend it for anyone 12ish and up, but especially for boys. No content issues, just a great read.
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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If I were to just call Variant unpredictable, that would be an undoubtable understatement. By the end of the book, my mind was completely blown. The places I assumed or expected this story to go throughout my reading, proved to be wrong every single time.

"Trust no one" is the perfect tag line for Robison Wells's creation. Benson, the protagonist, thinks he just got a scholarship to an upper class prep school, but boy is he wrong. What he gets in re
Krista Jensen
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to have read this book before final edits and I still can't wait to get it in my hands and read it again as a finished product. The characters, the twists, the mind-blowing premise of this YA thrill ride has left me needing the next book. Benson is the perfect reluctant hero, and I really hope he figures this thing out. Mr. Wells, get on that.

Oh, and the cover? I'm not ordering it for my Kindle. I want to SEE it up close in all its shimmery beauty. I can't wait until its release.
Erin Bowman
I’ve heard this book described as a “Lord of the Flies” set at boarding school. Um, yeah. That sounds awesome. And it is. From the second Benson sets foot within the grounds of Maxfield Academy – which happens within the first several pages, mind you – things are intense. Examples: there are no teachers, students have split into gangs, cameras watch everything, everywhere, and no one ever leaves the campus. This book is fast paced and near impossible to put down. Benson is not a perfect person, ...more
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Okay, October 4th is finally here--official release date of VARIANT.

This book is a definite must-read for 2011. It's being promoted as dystopian, but it could easily take place in our day. Benson is a foster kid, moved from place to place for as long as he remembers. So when he gets a "scholarship" to Maxfield Academy, he jumps at the chance, thinking he can finally get out of the rut he's lived in for so long.

When he arrives at Maxfield, he immediately starts noticing strange and bizarre things
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
VARIANT is the kind of book you race through, unable to stop even though you're eyes are tired and it's late at night. Wells has created a compelling closed society, with characters that live and breathe on the page.

Not really a dystopian, but with the chills and twists of a boarding school that creates a dystopian-esque atmosphere.

One of the best reads of 2011 for me.
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Okay, another book about a boarding school. Not original except there are no vampires. But, oh. It gets good. It really is different. Very different. First of all, the protagonist is a 17 year old boy. Second, the school has no teachers and the most bizarre curriculum. And it's a prison. Nobody gets out. The rules are odd and social mores are determined by a talking head on the television and the students themselves. Punishment is severe and inconsistent. Death is a real threat.

Benson arrives at
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
I don't know what to think of this book. Throughout the entire book I was reminded of the Maze Runner by James Dashner, except I loved that series! This book was just strange to me. I found the believability aspect of it to be extremely lacking. I just didn't believe these kids would conform to a school like this rather than trying to get out. I didn't believe the circumstances they were given and when we found out the big secret, I didn't even believe the explanation we were given. None of it m ...more
Variant is the perfect name for this book, because it is, itself, a variation of...

Lord of the Flies
In Golding's classic, which has its fair share of detractors, children and teenagers are thrust into a truly upsetting situation that supplies a chilling context for Golding to explore mob mentality, primal urges, and the tightrope walk of animal instinct and human compassion.

Wells attempts to expand this theme by putting teenagers in a boarding school with no teachers and a sloppily construc
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, borrowed
This was one awesome book.
I can easily say that this book was one of the most compelling reads of 2012. The blurb, the cover, the trailers, I guess everything made me read this.
First of all, I loved the story. After finishing "The Maze Runner" series, I was just all broken down because I adored 'The Maze Runner' trilogy and when it ended, I was so sad knowing that I won't be able to read a book like that anymore but this book just proved me wrong.

"I loved it! The twist behind it all is my fa
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I really liked the first half of this book. It reminded me of The Maze Runner which I really enjoyed. It's a unique read that would appeal to a wide audience including teenage boys. The second half of the book was good but took some really bizarre turns.

I can usually figure out where a book is going but was completely wrong with this one. It was completely unpredictable. The cover says Trust No One on it but I didn't realize how literally I should have taken that warning. It was full of twists a
May 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
1.5 out of 5 stars.


Characters: FULL of stereotypes / Main protagonist: perhaps one of my least favourite fictional characters in recent years. Completely idiotic and impulsive, so MIND-NUMBINGLY IRRITATING yet totally bland. I'm glad you've completely overcome your trauma because you've fallen in love this week! Well done.

Plot: Oh. OH. Don't even get me started. I don't think I've ever come across such a great idea completely and utterly destroyed wi
Hannah R.
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was a very good book at first it was a little slow but after I got more into it, it started getting better
Nov 17, 2011 rated it liked it
I will tell you, if I knew this was a "book one" I would not have bothered. I liked the read - the writing wasn't anything special and the premise was fun enough - foster kid with no family gets scholarship to special school where all the students are locked in without adults and etc etc experiments ? and big brother masterminds? and fighting and etc - I like that kind of story. And I appreciated that the main character was very WTF in an appropriate way that never stopped, and there was a cool ...more
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Now this is the type of book I've been looking for since I devoured the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix back in middle school. It's not a dystopian America. Benson is the type of kid you'd hear about every day, shuttled back and forth through the foster care system, getting nowhere. But unlike most down-on-their-luck little orphans, Benson doesn't look for a pair of parents for his very own, or tap-dance his way into the spotlight of some very impressed agent slash manager sla ...more
Dorine White
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Hold on to your hats! Variant, by Robinson Wells, is a ride into a young adult fantastical mystery that keeps you reading and reading. I stayed up to midnight, I couldn’t put it down. Published by HarperCollins, it runs 223 pages and is part one in a series.

The Story- Foster child Benson Fisher wants to improve his life. He’s tired of switching homes every few months and applies for a scholarship at a prestigious private school, Maxfield Academy. He begins to doubt his good luck when he arrives
Ilsa Bick
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Having been bounced around in the foster care system for years, Benson Fisher ends up at Maxfield Academy, a cloistered private school. What looks like an opportunity for this lonely, outcast kid quickly degenerates into a nightmare scenario. Maxfield Academy is a bit like a roach motel: bugs check in, but they don’t check out. There are no teachers; the kids run the classes; food and supplies are delivered via an elevator (reminiscent, actually, of The Maze Runner, whose Lord of the Flies dysto ...more
Michelle Madow
I loved Variant so much! It's an awesome sci-fi/thriller YA, and fans of James Dashner and Michael Grant are going to love the first book in this new series. When I saw that James Dashner blurbed this book, I knew I had to read it, and I'm so glad I did. I started reading yesterday afternoon, and finished before going to sleep. It was one of those books that I couldn't put down until I got to the end.

This book is one big sci-fi mystery waiting to be figured out. I kept trying to guess what was g
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youngadult
This book wins both the What The Frak! Plot Twist Award and the Holy Crap Ending Award as well. Book two cannot come soon enough. I went into this book knowing only that it's about a kid who goes to private school and discovers a sinister secret. But there's so much more going on. The school, the other students, it's all so different and so well done that I was perpetually kept on my toes, wondering about what was going to happen next and worrying over Benson, the protagonist, who was clearly go ...more
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