Name of the book: Variant
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Book publish year: 2011
Summary: Benson Fisher thought 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.
Review: Well, that's a tough book to review. I wanted to read it so much that I put on hold all other books waiting in line. Good news is, I finished it fast. Bad news, I liked it far less than I hoped. It was fast-paced and decent enough but a major disappointment on many levels. First off, how many paintball games do you need to describe in one book? Well, surely three are too many. Especially, since I didn't think it was so much important for the story line.
Second, I didn't like any of the characters. The never-described Benson Fisher is just a selfish little brat, IMO. Just like the others told him he was. He waltzes into that school, without knowing anything and presumes that everyone is an idiot for not running away while it obviously puts their lives in danger.
Third, the android thing was just... ridiculous? I branded the book Science Fiction because of that, but it's more of an action/adventure style, because the sci-fi kick doesn't go farther than plugging computer in one's head. I have no idea why the androids bothered me so much. Perhaps because I have some negative reading experience with them or because the whole idea is just too Terminator like for me. I would have certainly preferred a more elaborate scheme for the infamous school.
Fourth, there is the ending. The total absence of ending, actually. I read some reviews that said it was the best cliffhanger ever. Well, for me there's cliffhanger and there's cliffhanger. There are certain ways in which you can finish your book (considering there would be a sequel, wouldn't there?) and certain ways in which you shouldn't finish it. You can't dump your readers in the middle of a half-explanation that began to loom over the horizon. You can't just drop a new bomb on them, hoping they would be too dazed to actually ask what just happened and what was all the fuzz of this book about. And that's precisely what author did.
To conclude, I think the plot had some potential (hence my rushing to read it), but the execution was poor. If there's a sequel I'll give it a try if only to figure out what's with the androids. Duh.