Review : Variant, Robison Wells

Sometimes, when you read a book’s synopsis, you’re expecting things to be a certain way, situations, you’re always imagining what the story might be like, and how you might like it, or not. Some other times, you’re completely thrown off by what the story turns out to be. This is exactly what happened with Variant. I expected it to be one mysterious story, and it was. But it was way, way crazier than I’d imagined it to be.



β€œI had a feeling there was something wrong with me. I guess I was a mystery even to myself.”

Foster child, our main character is heading towards his new school, his new life, and well, what he hopes to be will shape him a better future. Dragged from family to family since he was little, he’s finally hoping to find some kind of home, education and a great, solid basis to get into life on his own, finally. But behind those huge fences, and the lenses of a billion cameras, what really is happening in that school? Right from the first pages, we are drawn into that mystery, just wondering what the hell we’ve gotten ourselves into. We’re as clueless as the main character, and if that is sometimes frustrating, here, it was perfectly used to build up suspense and make us feel stressed, curious, and always wanting more. As far as suspenseful, mystery YA novel goes, Variant really holds a good place, and Robison Wells knows how to build it up perfectly. From the start, until the very end, I felt compelled to read more.



β€œThe problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”

As you all know, since this is probably the case for you guys, too, characters are important, and I’m not saying this lightly. As a contemporary lover, I love it when they are well-built-up, and we know little details about them, making them feel real, three-dimensional, and just, like their lives are unfolding before our eyes. I get though, that in fantasy, mystery, dystopian novels, etc, there’s a big place for world-building, suspense-building etc, so that doesn’t leave too much of a place to develop the characters very well. To be honest, that’s what I missed in Variant. Even if the main character is one you can grow fond of, I never really felt close enough to him to love the book as much as I could have. I felt some distance, I felt like I couldn’t really grasp his whole personality. We do get to know him, his history, bit by bits, and from all of his actions we can completely understand that he’s a faithful friend, determinate, kind of stubborn, curious to bits, etc etc. However, I missed a little connection, I felt like it lacked some deepness. The same thing goes for the secondary characters. If we get to meet a bunch of different names -and it took me a while to get accustomed to this, we don’t really know them too well, and that’s too bad.



β€œI don’t always have to understand the people I love.”

If the novel lacked in characterization, the crazy suspense and ups-and-downs of the plot made up for it, a little bit. Variant takes you up on a roller coaster, and I felt like I wanted more, more, and more, the pages flew by very quickly. And the plot twist really got me, I was sitting, and I would have fallen off my chair if there weren’t people around. It was really crazy, unexpected, yet, good. Because a book able to surprise you, it’s a good thing, no? However, one tiny drawback about this whole plotting, pacing, many characters… in the blurb, this book is described as great for β€œMaze Runner” fans, and I can DEFINITELY see that. Maybe a little bit too much? It felt familiar to James Dashner’s pacing, suspense and just, the many characters, everything reminded me on the back of my head of that famous series… even if, to be honest, in the plot, it’s nothing alike.


If you’re looking for a mystery book to keep you reading all night long, then do pick up Variant. If I missed a little bit of characterization, it was still a highly-entertaining read, that, if you’re fans of James Dashner, you should really enjoy.

Final rating: Β 3 drops!

Did you read Variant? Do you want to read it? How important is a good characterization to you, in novels? Share your thoughts in comments!


Robison Wells, Variant, Β Published by HarperTeen, October 4th 2011.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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 escapeβ€”his only real hope for survivalβ€”may be impossible.

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40 thoughts on “Review : Variant, Robison Wells

  1. Hmmm, I am not really that much into mystery, so I am far from being an expert. It sounds like the suspense and all was good, but I hate when I can’t fully connect to a character, like there’s always that little bit of distance between us. All the feels that might have been are therefore never felt. It’s a shame.

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  2. This book sounds really interesting. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone genre wise but I am trying to branch out more πŸ˜€
    It sucks that the characterisation wasn’t on point as well, like you said it’s such a major part of any story and it can really drag a book down if you don’t really connect to the person telling the story but I’m glad the action made up for it. I may have to put this book on my to-read list!

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    1. I really love a great character I can relate to, and care about, and feel close to, but I missed a little bit of that in this story. However the action was on point, I couldn’t stop reading, I needed to know what was happening. And the twist, I didn’t see it coming at all, so it was really good! πŸ˜€ I hope you’ll read it πŸ™‚

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      1. I do love action in a book πŸ™‚ and it sounds brilliant if you couldn’t stop reading it as well! But yeah it’s a shame about the characters, I’m the same if I can’t connect to a character it does sometimes put me off the book a little, no matter how addictive the story itself is.
        Ohh a twist as well! I’m definitely intrigued by this book! I love good twists πŸ˜€

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      2. Well I am definitely intrigued now! I guess if the action is that addictive then that could explain why the character development fell in the wayside a little, but the fact that the story is so good you still loved this book just makes me more excited to read it!

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      3. Really, when I was reading it, I was so into the action that I couldn’t really focus on the characters development that much, and that rarely happens to me. Characters are so important, yet I managed to put that aside for a little while, because I was too curious to see where this craziness was headed. It’s just after finishing it that I realized it was lacking something, sadly.

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      4. I guess in the case of Variant the action just kind of overwhelmed everything else. I mean it’s good you still enjoyed the story in spite of that but I guess it would have been nice if the characters had been as well developed as the plot was.
        I’ll definitely have to pick up this book at some point, despite the lack of character development the plot sounds interesting enough for me to give it a go πŸ™‚

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      5. That sucks you always have to buy online! Do you buy loads of books when your on holiday then (I do, when I went to New York ages ago I spent hours in Barnes and Noble!)
        I do buy mostly online but I love being able to go into a bookstore and pick up something on a whim sometimes.

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      6. Oh yes I do…. I spend HOURS in Barnes and Noble or Waterstones’ just to look at all the books and smile like an idiot and pat all the covers, hahaha. It just feels SO good to know there are so many possibilities, so many books, and I can see them, ahah πŸ™‚ I love bookstores, so I miss it badly here.

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      7. I do the same thing in Waterstones and I go there every week pretty much. I don’t always buy from there because it is so expensive compared to the prices online but I love just seeing all the books on the shelves and knowing if I want I could buy one and walk out with it that day!

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