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Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

by Lauren Oliver

Genre: YA Dystopian
Hardback: 416 Pages
Publication: March 4, 2014
by Harper Collins


Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

Panic is a secret, high-stakes game that played by graduating seniors in Carp, a dead-end town. It's the kind of town that people want to leave the moment they graduate from high school, and the winning ticket out of town is to win the $67,000 prize in Panic. Participants will risk their life and go beyond the edges of fear. At the end of the summer-long game, one winner will stand at the top.

The story is told through the alternating perspectives of the main characters Heather and Dodge. Heather never planned to play the game. She joins in a spur-of-the-moment decision after her boyfriend breaks up with her. Later, however, she wants the money to get her little sister away from their neglectful mother and the trailer park they call home. I like how Heather grows stronger and more mature throughout the game as well as her strong relationship with her little sister. I also like her blooming relationship with Bishop, one of her best friends, though he's quiet, and we don't really get to know him. In comparison, Dodge has a lot of anger inside him. He wants to win, and he wants to get revenge. He too grows over the course of the game, becoming someone who will take care of his friends.

Panic is a bit unrealistic because of the harm the players are willing to inflict on each other, even lethal harm. Still, though the plot is not the most realistic, the author really knows the lengths that people will take when they despereately want to escape their lives and start afresh. The story captures the hopelessness and desperation of dead-end town people determined to get the only golden ticket to a future for themselves. It is a great story to a part of life that is not often seen or told in YA books.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.

Additional Information
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11 comments on "Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver"
  1. Sounds interesting. I love that you said there's a sister bond, and the characters grow. I guess the only question I have is whether I'll accept how unreal the story is. I do sometimes, but other times I really need a plausible story. Great review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  2. Glad you liked it. I did too but wanted to shake the characters for the dangerous things they were willing to do for the game. So dangerous. But you're right, Lauren didn't shy away from what kids are willing to do.

  3. Great review! Yours is probably the most favorable I read. Most early reviewers aren't really digging this novel of Oliver's. I feel like I've been waiting so long to get my grubby little hands on a copy... :)

  4. Jackie, thanks. You will enjoy the book.

  5. I honestly didn't think I'd read this book when I first saw it, but then got a little more interested. But the last couple of reviews I read had said similar things you did, so I really don't know if I want to now. I'm just not feeling that extra push needed to do so.

    1. Yes. You either like it or not. I think the challenge of the games are unrealistic because they are too lethal, and the harm the players are willing to inflict on each other.

  6. True that they seem to be taking it way too far and with these types of challenges more deadly than in the past

  7. I'm really curious about this one. It is coming up on my reading schedule. I'm wondering how much the unrealistic vibe will affect me. Great review!


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