Friday, September 30, 2011

Creepy Creeperson

The third galley I snagged on Net Galley the first time around was the one I was looking least forward to reading and, of course, ended up being the best of the bunch.  I loved Variant by Robison Wells.  What I thought would be the same ol', same ol' was truly a treat:

Benson Fisher thinks he has found the solution to his problem in Maxfield Academy.  A loner shuffled from foster home to foster home,  Benson finds Maxfield's promise of a prep school for social outcasts to be a perfect setting for his needs.  When Benson arrives, however, he discovers that advertising is not always truthful.  Instead of a prep school, Benson finds himself in a life-size maze complete with human rats.  The school is populated by teens only - there are no adults except for the daily broadcasting of a bodiless male who informs the 74 "students" of what the day's schedule will be.  Society, one of the three gangs at the school, runs the show:  turning in deviants who fail to follow the strict rules, teaching classes, and administering medical care.  Havoc, another gang, runs the physical side of the school and enforces who may leave the building and who may not.  Clad in heavy chains and self-made tattoos, Havoc's rough demeanor intimidates and subdues the inhabitants of Maxfield.  Benson finds himself a member of the Variants, a gang populated by those who still believe there is a way out of Maxfield.  Benson's determination to find out the secret behind the television screen is the catalyst that shakes up the experiment that is the school and reveals more deception than anyone had previously believed existed in the stately realm of the institution.

Although the beginning of the book is somewhat slow and familiar, Wells soon shifts the action into high gear by dropping bombshells of revelations in the middle of the plot.  Reader's reactions will race from "No way - can't be!" to "Don't leave me hanging!"  But leave us hanging is indeed what this first in a series does.  Wells creeps through the grounds of a creepy, plastic setting, knocking over facades and throwing bombs that destroy assumed plots, creating a suspenseful and engaging book that readers will have a hard time putting down.  I groaned inwardly when I read the last line and realized I would not know the secret of Maxfield Academy and I eagerly await an inevitable sequel.  Wells book is a winner and is sure to draw in young adult readers of fantasy and suspense.

The downside is that I read an ARC which means I will have to wait even longer than most for that second book to come out.  Of course, there is always Net Galley.  I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed that the ARC is up for grabs there!

Happy Reading Friends!!!!

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