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YA Suspense, 356 pages
Acquired and read: NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review; read in about twenty-four hours due to the unending hassle that is sleep, eating and tutoring duties.
Benson Fisher thought that 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.
Now this is the type of book I've been looking for since I devoured the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix back in middle school. It's not a dystopian America. Benson is the type of kid you'd hear about every day, shuttled back and forth through the foster care system, getting nowhere. But unlike most down-on-their-luck little orphans, Benson doesn't look for a pair of parents for his very own, or tap-dance his way into the spotlight of some very impressed agent slash manager slash future father-in-law. He sends in for a scholarship to Maxfield Academy, a mysterious boarding school for kids like him who are down on their luck, hoping that maybe it can get his life going.
He's right, but not in the way he thinks.
Okay, now I must confess: for the first half of the book, I DETESTED BENSON. He sort of reminded me of Katniss (I'm sure I don't have to give a link for you to know who that is) - running against brick walls, constantly causing trouble without getting anywhere for his pains...oh yeah, and he is completely gullible when it comes to a cute girl. One thing is for sure, though, the plot wouldn't be carried off without him...and it probably wouldn't have been as fun with an infallible, all-wise and dashing hero.
Other than the initial setback of a rather irritating protagonist, this book was completely awesome in that it never delivered exactly what you'd expect. Even the end was a cliffhanger and, although I'm not approving of series recently, I will definitely set aside my misgivings for a sequel.
Bravo, Mr. Wells. I'm looking forward to more.
Warnings: A brief mention of exactly what teenagers are apt to think of when privacy + no adults are combined. Perhaps some language too, though I can't exactly remember at the moment. Just...proceed with caution.
Final verdict: Yes, and eagerly awaiting more.