author: lauren oliver
pages : [hardcover] 416
favorite characters : dodge & bishop
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.
I’ve been a big fan of Lauren Oliver ever since I first read Before I Fall. As soon as I heard she was coming out with another book I knew I needed to see what it was about. The premise for Panic didn’t sound as exciting as I had hoped it would have been, though it certainly intrigued me. But it had the potential to be a very campy contemporary book. There were some moments that were very thrilling and suspenseful, though they are spread throughout the novel as the game drags on through the summer. Panic had the potential to get gritty and real-with death-defying events being undertaken by teenagers, reports of previous contestants losing their lives or at least being seriously injured. Yet the book to me was never much more than okay.
Part of this was because of the disconnect I felt with the characters. Dodge and Heather get to alternate the focus in most of the novel, yet the characters are so similar that their lives don’t seem very unique. They both want the money to get out of town, have sisters they need to take care of, are annoyed with their mothers over who they’re dating, live in bad spaces. If their parts had been written in first person I’m not sure I would have been able to differentiate between them very well.
The romance in this book . . . I’m not sure if I was actually supposed to see it here. Right up in the blurb it says that Heather and Dodge both encounter the possibility of love and within the book I could see how that was intended to happen. I liked how the relationships there weren’t conventional and were more complex than are usually found in YA novels. Yet the way things ended, at least for one pair of characters, didn’t make much sense to me and actually left me disappointed.
The ending wrapped up way too quickly and was a big thumbs down for me. I wanted to hear more from the characters outside of the game of Panic, I wanted a bigger explosive finale. I wanted more. I just didn’t get that, though I’m glad that this novel is a standalone and wouldn’t be unnecessarily drawn out. Panic had an interesting concept and didn’t use that to every advantage I think that it should. While I still love Lauren Oliver and will love to read more from her, this book was just an okay read for me.