Booktalk Thursday--Variant by Robison Wells
Benson Fisher has lived in many foster homes, each one more dismal than the last. Finally, he decides to make a positive step for his own future and applies to Maxfield Academy, an elite private school. Benson is pleased to be accepted.
Once Benson arrives, however, things are not as he expects them to be. There are no teachers. There is no principal. There are no adults, just students. They are controlled by some unseen authority that watches them through cameras and listens to all that is said. The students have broken into three separate groups: Society, Havoc and the V's. Each group is responsible for some kind of job (like rule enforcement, cooking, or cleaning) that provides them with points to buy supplies.
Feeling duped and frustrated by his imprisonment, Benson is determined to escape. This is a near impossible feat considering that every action and every comment is on camera. Students who’ve tried to escape before haven’t made it and no one knows exactly what happened to them. Benson has no idea what he’s up against, but he’s not going to stop trying.
This book came out around the same time as Veronica Roth’s Divergent and I remember thinking they sounded similar because the teens are broken into separate groups with the capitalized names (Society, Havoc). While this book is exciting, just like Divergent, and has a strong survival element, both stories are very different. Benson is a likable character, an smart guy who has struggled in the foster care system. He’s looking for a positive change in his life and thinks Maxfield Academy might be the answer. He couldn’t be more wrong. Maxfield is one twisted, horrible, nasty school and some of the students don’t seem quite right either. It you’re looking for a page turner with plenty of intrigue, look no further. The second book in the series (Feedback) will be out very, very soon.
Also try these tales about horrible schools:
The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer
Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
Breaking Point by Alex Flinn
QUARANTINE by Lex Thomas