Young Adult Literature
Dystopia is hot in YA publishing right now. There's a lot of it being published — some good, some not so good. Robison Wells’s Variant is very good.
Benson Fisher is a 16 year old foster kid who thinks he’s found a way out of the endless stream of unsatisfying temporary homes. He’s received a scholarship to Maxfield Academy, a private boarding school. But this is an odd boarding school: isolated, without teachers, and run by unseen powers and the social maneuverings of three ‘gangs’, the Society, Havoc and the Variants. Each group is responsible for some part of the running of Maxfield, and they’ve established a tentative truce after the violently turbulent relationships between the students resulted in several deaths before Benson’s arrival. The students are essentially prisoners, held in by walls, razor wire and the security detail contracted to the Society. The rules are simple and straightforward, but the punishments are sinister and result on a number of kids just disappearing.
Almost from the moment he arrives, Benson is looking for a way out. He’s a smart, tough kid — a convincing and likeable character. The story has a fast-paced, cinematic plot that will appeal to fans of James Dashner, Suzanne Collins, and Michael Grant, an undeniable appeal to teenage boys and especially reluctant readers, and a wild cliffhanger ending. Up against these favorable features, there is only one con: a wild cliffhanger ending that will drive you nutty until the concluding volume is published this year.
Wells has written a stand-out YA debut, one that is deserving of acclaim both among LDS bibliophiles and book lovers of all denominations.