Author: Robison Wells
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Format: Electronic Copy
Acquired: ARC; Netgalley
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 5 Stars
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.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I was a little confused and kept wondering if I was reading the second book in a series but soon I started to think how awesome this was. I was literally as confused as Benson and I just wanted to know what the big secret is and why the school is the way it is. I kept thinking about it and I just couldn't find anything, but there were a lot of moments when certain things started to stick out.
Benson was an interesting character. He was unsure of what was going on and reacted naturally. Wouldn't you if you found out that the school of your dreams is a weird place that has no teachers, principle, adults, and the students make up the rules? I would be freaked out. But I also felt like his character was reacting on too much impulse and that usually makes a person stupid. He was too centered on getting out, himself, and not what it could mean. Especially with this whole thing about the gangs, wars, and a truce.
The whole concept of the gangs was interesting and I liked the way the author made a reference to Lord of the Flies because it reminded me of that. I kept going through my mind on what the purpose of these gangs were and why the people who ran this school let these students run themselves, and I could not find a solution. And also the way these characters just automatically pick out leaders, because this goes back to the root of a Thomas Hobbes quote: "The war of all against all," which basically means humans are selfish creatures who look out for themselves and not worry about others, and the way the author made this happen in this story is very real.
Some of the character's annoyed me. I was against Becky a lot of the times, but I grew fond of her the way Benson did as well. I figured something would happen there. Mason I felt was a good character, and I was a little stunned at the end with the way things turned out, and if you read the book you will find out what that is. And the gang "leaders" Curtis, Oakland, and Isaiah were probably the most complicated characters I ran into. I could never figure out what is going on with these guys, especially Isaiah, because you think you know, but soon you just can't know. And Robison makes you doubt these characters and their intentions, and I love that.
The story line is original and everything was so real. I loved how they came to life, and I loved how things started to become revealed. I thought this was a stand alone novel and I was upset when at the end there were all these loose ends and I keep thinking, "Is that it? Really?" But you find out that there's a book 2, which will come out.
The ending? My jaw literally dropped. I could not believe it. The last two chapters leave you stun. And for a while I kept wondering about Benson's own existence as well, and you would as you read the story, or you might not. He gets injured a lot, or he's just a really advance model. I can't tell, but it will stay an open question for me I think.
I think this book had the biggest cliff hanger of any book I read, and you are desperate for the second book already. It was exciting, fun, adventures, mysterious, twisted, jaw-dropping experience. You will want to devour this book.