Variant is written by Robinson Wells, the brother of Dan Wells who wrote I am Not a Serial Killer. Despite my years of research, I have not been able to confirm or deny that the Wells Brothers are related to Dawn Wells. Or Wells Fargo, for that matter.
Variant is the story of Benson Fisher, a foster kid who applies to a private academy to escape the miserable foster homes he has been in before, which, if we believe a lot of what we hear about some foster parents, we know that this part of the book is probably realistic fiction. Benson arrives at Maxwell Academy to find that there are no teachers, no adults at all. There are just 77 kids, each of whom belong to one of three gangs. Benson wants to GET OUT, but most of the other kids seem content or defeated. No one is sure why they are there, perhaps it is a training camp, though all they do is play paintball sometimes, or maybe it is a psych experiment. One gang seems to be the "do-gooders" communicating with the Iceman, who visits via closed circuit tv and computers to tell the students what their daily schedule will be. This group, The Society is content to just take things as they are. Havoc, that's the "bad guys" gang. They wear chains and have ink tattoos and like to cause trouble. The third group, the Vs, are just kind of there. They try to keep the peace, but they want to get out, someday and so they don't kiss butt like the Society does.
One of the most bothersome things about the book is that it says "V's" when referring to this group. Doesn't that imply possession? The V's cat. The V's chair. Should it just be "Vs"? Like CDs and 80s music? Not "I have a lot of CD's." and "I liked the 80's."
Maybe I am wrong but I looked in a couple grammar books and they agree with me.
So it was so annoying to see "The V's were in the room." The V's WHAT was in the room??? No, just the V's. Oh, you mean just the Vs!
The other bothersome thing is that Benson is supposed to have come from Pittsburgh. He says that he lived in foster homes in Elliot, the Bluff and South Side and then says that these are not top Pittsburgh tourist destinations. I would suggest that the South Side is one of the more popular tourist destinations in Pittsburgh. The Bluff, which is better known as Uptown, is actually a very small area of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University and Mercy Hospital taking up quite a bit of it. There are law offices, and the Armstrong Tunnel. Not a lot of residential stuff going on there. It is 1.5 miles in size. Some of DU's frat houses are there though...and given what we know about some foster care businesses, I guess that they might put a foster kid under the care of a frat. Maybe that's where Benson was.
So I took a lot of time saying what bugged me about the books...but still I really did like it. I mean, did Happy Days stop being fun to watch after Fonz went out in his shorts and water skis? No!
The book kept me reading and I will be reading the sequel.