Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Rating: ★★★ (3/5 Stars)
Hardcover, 408 Pages
Published March 2014

Summary: 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 didn't dislike this book by any means, so that isn't why it received four stars. I guess I just went into Panic expecting more than I ended up getting out of it. As the summary explains, Panic is a kind of betting game that graduating seniors of this small, upstate New York town play over the summer with nothing better to do. Players have to push themselves to the extremes and do crazy challenges, such as conquering their biggest fears, running across six lanes of traffic blindfolded, jumping off of a cliff, and balancing on a beam between two water towers. Pretty crazy stuff. And the winner of this year's Panic pockets $67,000. 

I guess the first part of the book that struck me as unrealistic is that there is absolutely no way on this earth that the police wouldn't have shut this game down years ago. If the game has been running for as long as Heather said it has, and everyone in town knows about it, why on earth is it still allowed to happen? I get that it's a book, and that crazy stuff is supposed to happen, but when Heather explains the logistics of the game in the very beginning, it struck me as severely odd that not a single adult in all of the years of Panic made any move whatsoever to shut the game down. How many people had to die or get permanently paralyzed before someone took a stand?

Apparently it takes a lot more deaths and wounds than what Heather said already happened (and there were already quite a few), because nobody made a move to do anything.

A couple of the "plot twists" in the book I ended up figuring out five seconds after I read the first minuscule cue. :/

The only other part of this book that frustrated me was the ending. (Just hold on a second there and calm down, because I'm not going to ruin anything for you.) I was really unhappy because the end of the story switched from one scene to the next, and so much was left out! It's normal to be left with some questions, but my mind was bursting with a pretty large amount. I feel like the end of the story only covered one character, but not the other. I was really curious to see what would happen to the both characters, and I feel as if Oliver spent a whole bunch of time covering the after effects in relation to only Heather, and not Dodge. I really wanted to see what would happen to him, and nothing was even in his point of view at the end to tell me - it was all Heather's. What's up with that?

Aside from the couple of negative aspects that knocked this review down a couple of stars, I wasn't entirely unhappy with this book. The idea of Panic itself is intriguing - although I know right off the bat that I would never have the guts it takes to survive playing a game like that. I wouldn't make it past the jump off of the cliff that signified the initiation into the game.

There's a reason it's called Panic, after all.

I feel like Oliver did a great job developing all of the characters in the story, and there was definitely a lot going on all at once, but each conflict was given ample time throughout the story to properly develop and be concluded, which is important. (All except Nat's conflict that gets admitted the night of her birthday party. That one I'm a bit more curious about.)

All in all, Panic was a fast-paced, thrilling book that, despite a couple of negative aspects, managed to capture my attention from chapter one and hold onto it until the very end. Oliver did a good job and I recommend this story to anybody looking for a good thrill and an interesting read!  :-)

1 comment

  1. Seems like this one was gripping enough to keep you turning pages, but I'm really not a fan of open settings myself!
    Great review Jessica!


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