By Robison Wells
Available October 2011
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.
This Blonde’s Review:
Benson is a foster kid who wants more out of life. He wants to learn, join the football team, have a girlfriend, and be a normal teenage boy. When he is given the chance to apply for a scholarship to a private school that he believes will offer all of that, he takes it. Except things aren’t quite what he was led to believe.
When he arrives at his new school he is puzzled. It looks nice, but the woman who drove him won’t get out of the car. There is a strange kid making cryptic comments. He can’t seem to open the doors to enter the school. And the woman who is supposed to check him in & give orientation is actually not a woman, instead she is a girl his age.
Benson is shocked to discover he hasn’t been chosen to attend a school, more like a prison. There are no adults anywhere & the place its covered with cameras. The students have to wear tracking devices that double as key cards. If the administrators, whoever they are, don’t want you to go through a door then you can’t go. Classes are led by other students and a man on a screen. You have no contact with the outside world. And if you break the rules, you die.
The students who were there before him have had to figure out how to survive each other & their environment. They have divided into three different groups based on what they believe about their school. The group who follows the rules, the group who enjoys being someplace without adults, & the third group that doesn’t fit either of the other groups. Variant is where the kids who want to escape go.
Benson is not about to accept his imprisonment & joins Variant. He is always thinking of ways out, using knowledge gained from other kids & tv shows he watched in the past. As time goes on he starts to like some things, but never enough to want to stay the way others do.
When he discovers a secret about one of the other students, one he thought he knew, Benson’s mind is blown. He doesn’t know who he can trust & who is who they say they are.
I really liked Benson, he’s smart & determined without going too far. His fellow Variant members are people we get to know & like to varying degrees. Becky is a girl from another gang that we get to know slowly, but we don’t know if she’s trustworthy or not. I wanted to like & wanted to trust her, but I won’t spoil whether that was the right thing to do or not.
As Benson tries to figure out how to get out & who to trust, I got caught up in his story & can’t wait to read the next one! I’ll be picking up my own copy when it comes out in
Fans of Maze Runner & the Gone series will enjoy this one. If you like stories about kids on their own with mysteries to solve in order to survive, then you’ll love this.