Mar 7, 2014

Book Review: Panic - Lauren Oliver

Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher
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.
Panic was an inevitable read for me. I mean, it's Lauren Oliver, so of course I had to read it. Being a big fan of her Delirium trilogy, I expected something equally thrilling and magical from this book, but while I enjoyed Panic, I didn't love it, and until now I'm not sure exactly why.

More than the characters, what intrigued me about this book was Panic, the game. Before I started reading this, I couldn't fathom why anyone in their right mind would want to do something life-threatening just to alleviate their boredom, so imagine my surprise when I found out that these fresh-out-of-high-school kids were actually playing for a pot worth $62,000 - an amount that came out of their own pockets. Jesus. Even I would join. But then I'd probably back out when things become pure insanity. Because that's how Panic goes: as the number of players lessen, the challenges get harder and more dangerous. I won't be too specific about this aspect because these dares are real jaw-droppers, but trust me when I say that I wish I could be one of the audience. 

But that's not to say that the characters weren't interesting at all, because they were. They each had their own reasons for joining Panic, but I'll focus on our MCs. Heather plans to use the money to finally get herself and her younger sister away from Carp and their good-for-nothing mother, but she has no idea just how much danger she signed up for - especially when she starts receiving anonymous text messages telling her to quit playing. Dodge, on the other hand, is not playing for the money, although he definitely needs it as well. Again, I won't get into specifics, but if you pick up a copy of this book, you'll learn early on his real motivation. The other players along with these two had problems and motives that people their age shouldn't have had, yet did.

And then there's the romance. At first I worried that not one, but two love stories would distract from Panic, but of course not. If anything, they upped the stakes, because if Heather and Dodge were to get what they want from the game, they had to sacrifice the needs of their hearts, especially when, one by one, people's secrets were unraveled. I kept second-guessing everyone in here, and that just made the book even more exciting.

As Panic escalated and started involving non-players, it didn't remain a secret to the adults who of course wanted to put a stop to it, but its organizers were shrouded in so much secrecy and anonymity that they couldn't be stopped - like the thrill of having absolutely no idea what could happen next disabled me from turning the pages. Although Lauren Oliver's writing wasn't quite like what I've read of her before, it was still beautiful and captivating as always. Panic is not a book for the easily-bored, but if you're one for patience, then I'm sure this will be nothing but enthralling for you.

MY FAVORITE PART was Joust. Holy crackers. 


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