Hello fellow bloggers,
SO listen up all lovers of Maze Runner, Lord of the Flies, Divergent or 1984/Big Brother type novels. This dystopian thriller from Robison Wells might be your next read. Enclosed in the pages of what I presumed to be another generic, run-of-the-mill YA novel was a story that certainly positively challenged my preconceptions. Technically my judgement wasn’t wrong. This is simply the story of some teenage reject wandering into some preppy boarding school with gangs and cliques that make the protagonist want to escape… kind of like most YA plots. However, the thing about Wells’ edition is that his developed suspense and action skills turn this story into so much more. Wild plot twists, a quick pace and an authentic yet sarcastic humour in the protagonist’s voice transform this into an original read. Wells makes uncommon themes like abandonment and paradigm shifts in the human reality seem vividly imaginable through a convincing tone and a well chosen, easy-to-grasp vocabulary.
This novel didn’t consist of much symbolism or hidden messages to analyze as far as I could tell. The deep messages in this were more explicit and clearly stated although I hear that Wells’ other novel delve into more symbolism if you’re into that. Don’t expect any reviews on those other novels from this blog though…Variant didn’t leave a good enough impression to motivate me to delve further with this author.
The reason I’m not impressed is because too many characters in this novel are flat out static. I kid you not, Benson, Becky and less so Curtis are the only characters who’s emotions, reactions or thought processes seem to be observed The rest of the characters have a line or two about them…perhaps to progress the plot and then they’re gone; I know as little about them by the end of the book as I do at the beginning. The book’s catch phrase of “Trust No One” is far too ironic because how on earth was the protagonists supposed to trust anyone when half the characters have no personality to trust in the first place? These plain, predictable and poorly-researched characters indicate one of two things to me. Option A: Wells wrongfully sacrificed individual character development to ensure that the masterpiece big-picture of the plot went along smoothly and quickly. Honestly I’m hoping what really happened is Option 2) the characters are intentionally plain and almost as emotionless as robots because such characteristics would make suit their life forms by the end of the plot. I’m not sure how to elaborate on that last point without spoiling the book…so if you read it and wish to understand that last point send me a message. Regardless, the semi-rushed plot and under-developed characters give me the impression that this book would be pure genius…but is instead just watered down, diluted genius. Some extra time planning characters and adding detail to the shocking ending would have rendered this novel more than a 3/5 stars.
Looking forward, I think future writing initiatives of this author would be aided through collaboration with similarly minded authors. My vote for who he collabs with? James Dashner. I say that because I especially noticed that Benson’s sarcastic sense of humour is similar to Thomas from The Maze Runner. To boot, it would be a mutual growth opportunity if these authors worked together. As I stated in my Maze Runner Review, Dashner’s problem is that he sacrifices the overall ending for too much lengthy detail in the middle. Well’s problem is the exact opposite because he sacrifices individual characters’ development to rush through the plot to the ending. Put these two together and they’d cancel out the other’s flaws for a magical novel, don’t you agree?
For now, Variant is original varying from your typical YA novel, is strong in suspense and originality but just wont meet the standard until these two authors collaborate!