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Feedback (Variant)
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Gr 8 Up-This story picks up where Variant (HarperCollins, 2011) left off. Benson has broken out of Maxfield Academy, but not without devastating consequences; several of his schoolmates were killed or severely injured in the process. His shock is palpable when he and a badly hurt Becky stumble into a barn and find Jane alive and, well.human. The heart-stopping action of the first book is largely dialed back in favor of quietly disturbing half-revelations about the diabolical Maxfield Academy. The school uses teens to create incredibly realistic androids, many of whom were killed by Benson during his escape. Their human counterparts, including Jane, have been living in fortlike structures outside the school compound. Because of microchips implanted in their brains, the teens receive "feedback," seeing everything their android versions do, as well as experiencing their emotions. The microchips preclude escape-the teens feel pain if they venture too far from the forts-and it's up to Benson to devise a solution. While he was self-absorbed in Variant, here he displays emotional growth through his compassion and love for Becky. But that's not enough to propel a plot that suffers woefully from the lack of action and strong characterization that defined the first book. Readers will be less invested in the fates of the human counterparts as their android versions were far more fascinating. Feedback raises compelling ideas about artificial intelligence and social order, but, unfortunately, the oddly confusing finale leaves more questions than it answers. Purchase if Variant continues to be incredibly popular.-Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"Picking up only moments after the first book ends, Feedback features the same nonstop, breathless pace, adding new dimension to old characters and new plot twists that are hard to see coming. An absorbing read that won't let fans of the first down."--Kirkus Reviews

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