"Trust no one."
Seventeen-year-old Benson Fisher has been shuffled between thirty-three foster families since he entered the system at the age of five. Some placements last several months. One only lasted a few hours. Currently with the Coles, all of his free time outside of class is spent working in the family owned gas station without pay. Looking for some stability in his otherwise chaotic life, he applies for a scholarship to Maxfield Academy, a private school in New Mexico. Arriving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Benson is shocked to see that the campus is surrounded by a twelve foot tall chain link fence topped with razor wire and security cameras.
After driving through a thick steel gate set into a tall brick wall, the school representative, Ms. Vaughn, drops Benson off at the main building. She tells him to find Becky Allred and promptly leaves. Walking up the stairs he notices the upper story windows are crowded with faces looking down on him. Some are banging on the windows and shouting, which he cannot hear, but others just stare. He notices that not everyone is wearing a school uniform. Some are wearing old fashion looking outfits while others are dressed like rappers. Suddenly, the front door opens and a boy and a girl run out chasing after Ms. Vaughn’s car. The boy stops are warns Benson not to listen to Isaiah or Oakland when they say “we can’t get out of here.” He chases after the girl leaving Benson behind.
Benson is greeted by Becky who informs him that she conducts all new student orientations. He begins to question Becky about what he has seen so far. He asks about the kids at the windows and she lets him know that they are just excited to meet him. She avoids answering about the runners by linking arms and entering the building. When Benson asks about Isaiah and Oakland, Becky becomes flustered and states that every school has troublemakers. He demands to see the principal but she states that her job is to be the first person to talk with all new students. Everyone at Maxfield has a job and there are no adults around.
Becky takes Benson to the floor where the boys’ dorms are located and drops him at the door. On the other side, the hallway s packed with boys waiting to meet him. They greet him warmly and one leads him into a quiet room and begins to talk about the gangs. Without the gangs, Maxfield would resemble Lord of the Flies. Isaiah’s group believes in being civilized and the other groups operate like gangs. He and Becky belong to the Society, the largest group at school who believes in following the rules.
Someone begins banging on the door and some of Isaiah’s boys try to keep them out. Isaiah tells Benson that one of the other groups, Havoc, is trying to get in. Society’s jobs include administration, teaching and security. Benson is not happy to learn that they are supposed to keep everyone inside the gate. Finally, the boys in the hallway break into the room and their leader is dressed in a hoodie, wearing gold chains. He also sports a tattoo around one eye and looks like he is itching for a fight. He introduces himself as Oakland and says that his gang takes care of their members. He verbally bullies Isaiah and tells Benson not to believe his nice boy act. Joining up with Havoc means they protect one another’s back.
Looking for a way out and not to assimilate, Benson gets into a fight with Oakland. Between the two of them, Benson can hold his own but is quickly outnumbered when other Havoc members join in. Benson is getting a pretty good beating when Oakland suddenly falls. Behind him stands the guy who chased after Ms. Vaughn’s car, Curtis. "He said he doesn’t want to join Havoc or the Society.” Curtis said. “That means he’s in the V’s.” he looked at Benson. “Isn’t that right?” Benson nods his head and with that he is the newest Variant at Maxfield Academy.
Benson learns that Havoc wants complete rule, the Society thinks that playing by the rules is their ticket out and the V’s consist of everyone else. They aren’t accepting of the situation and are buying their time until they can figure out a way to escape. Everyone at Maxfield is the Benson; no friends, no family, no one to know they are missing. And when Benson comes across the secret behind Maxfield, he realizes that playing by the rules could mean death and escape is nearly impossible.
Is Maxfield Academy a prison, school or laboratory? Who runs Maxfield and what secret does it hold? Will Benson be able to escape and be able to take anyone with him? What is the purpose of holding the students prisoner?
Book two - Feedback
"They are not alone."
SPOILER ALERT! Do not read any further if you don't want to learn the secrets of Variant and Maxfield Academy if you have not read the first book.
Picking up immediately where Variant left off, the secrets of Maxfield Academy run deeper than Benson Fisher ever imagined!
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