The_Maze_Runner_cover variant

I read The Maze Runner about a year ago.  I liked it well enough to read the whole trilogy.  After I put it down, I kind of put it out of my mind. Recently, I needed an audio book to listen to and I found Variant on Overdrive and downloaded it to my phone.  It grabbed me right away and I am now half way through the second book in the trilogy.  The books have many similarities, so I thought I would compare them for you.  Each has a teen male as the main character. Each is thrown into an involuntary imprisonment and has to find a way out.  Each has a girl they are falling for (Variant has more than one).  Each has to choose an allegiance with a group inside their respective prisons.   Both groups know that they are under constant surveillance and their surveyors reward them for good behavior and punish them for bad behavior, with things like withholding food. Each suspects they are involved in some kind of experiment. Here are some more of the specifics about each book.

In The Maze Runner Thomas wakes up in a strange place and he cannot remember how he got there or anything about his life before he got there.  He meets a group of all male teens who introduce him to the glade.  They also have their own language of sorts and it takes a little while as a reader to figure out what on earth these kids are talking about.  It doesn’t take too long to figure it out.  Turns out every boy in the Glade arrived the same way as Thomas.  Everyone has a different to do everyday and all of their basic necessities are provided for.  The most esteemed job is that of the maze runner.  In the Glade there is a giant maze and the boys aer convinced that finding the exit will give them freedom.  There is, of course, a catch.  Every morning there are stone walls that lower, allowing entrance to the maze and raise every night, blocking it off. Fierce monsters arrive in the maze every night and no one has survived a night in the maze.  Will Thomas be the first to survive a night in the maze and find a way for his group?

Benson Fisher is the main character in Variant. Benson is a ward of the state who has gone from foster home to foster home his whole life.  He finds a school called Maxfield Academy online and thinks it is his ticket to becoming his own man.  When he arrives, he notices strange things right off, like students staring at him through the windows with looks of doom on their faces and some teens making a run for it when the front door opens.  The minute Benson enters Maxfield and the doors lock him in, he realizes his mistake.  He is forced to pick a tracking unit to wear, informed that he is being constantly monitored and told must pick one of three gangs to join up with.  Benson’s main goal is to escape the school and he can’t understand some of the students complacency with being imprisoned at Maxfield.

One of the big differences with the two books is that The Maze Runner is set in a dystopian world, where the little bits and pieces we learn about the outside paint it as a bleak and awful future, while Variant is set in current times.  One of my favorite things about Variant are the paintball games the students have to play.  They are pretty cool. Overall, I would have to say that Variant was the better book.  The Maze Runner had a lot of suspense and mystery, almost to the point of being frustrating, while Variant had just the right amount of suspense to keep you reading.  Variant had a really good surprise ending that made me get the second book right away.  I enjoyed both books and would recommend them both, but I just enjoyed Variant more.

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