Variant by Robison Wells
Foster kid Benson Fisher thinks he’s finally found a way out of the syndrome of moving every few months to a new foster home, some of which have been pretty unspeakable. On his own he’s won a scholarship the the expensive Maxfield academy in New Mexico. He quickly finds out his first afternoon there that this is a school like no other. First there are no adults there; other students even teach the classes. Next he realizes that the school is basically a prison, even being surrounded by huge brick walls topped with razor-wire. Then he immediately discovers that the school is run by three gangs, who are all vying for him to join their ranks. But it CAN get worse; students never graduate or leave the school, they are simply killed, sent to detention and never reappear, or just disappear randomly. The most frustrating part is that Benson is the only student who is desperate to escape, everyone else is too afraid or complacent to even join his efforts. But when he finds out one of the school’s dark secrets, plans change dramatically!
I enjoyed this book. It is a well-written debut novel, that is action-packed with more than a few surprises. I can see readers eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. I would recommend this to readers who like suspense and a thrill-a-minute story, fans of mystery novels and the Maze Runner books and Salt trilogy.