From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes an extraordinary novel of fear, friendship, courage, and hope.
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of twelve thousand 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.
Already optioned by Universal Pictures in a major deal, this gritty, spellbinding novel captures both the raw energy of fear mixed with excitement as well as the aching need to find a place to belong.
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes an extraordinary novel of fear, friendship, courage, and hope.
Prior to reading Panic, I was tilting dangerously towards a reading slump. Honestly, I was nervous, because the reviews on this one have been mixed, and, when I’ve been blacksheeping the books everyone loves, how could this go well? Actually, Panic was just what I needed. It’s fast-paced, high octane, and a definite page-turner. Panic was the perfect antidote to a series of boring books that were sending me to the doldrums.
Panic centers on a game called Panic, in which seniors who have just graduated from school participate in a series of dares of escalating difficulty to win a huge pot of money. It’s been happening for years in their town, and is essentially like Fear Factor, only without all the safety nets to prevent death. Let’s get out of the way my skepticism about something this large in scale not having been caught in years prior, given how loud and obvious the teens are about it. However, it’s really interesting and I am totally willing to let that slide, sit back and enjoy the ride.
The game itself, however, I do mostly find believable, aside from the fact that they’re not nearly subtle enough for adults to not lock it down. The fact that teens would do absurdly dangerous shit for money is completely believable. I mean, teens will do completely dangerous shit FOR FREE, so a sixty thousand dollar pot would be pretty tempting. Actually, that’s the other thing I was confused about, because most of the people in this town seemed pretty poor, but the teens were paying a dollar per school day into the pot? Again, whatever, moving on.
Now, I was totally not one of those kids that would do any of these things. Hell to the no to playing chicken with cars or crossing a board and risking falling to my death. Even the inaugural challenge of jumping off a cliff into water, which is fairly safe, I wouldn’t do because of the vertical climb to get there. My friends weren’t these people either, but I still heard stories about what the cooler kids would do, like throwing stale donuts at cars, knocking mailboxes down with cars, and drag-racing (one such incident resulted in a girl at my school going to jail for manslaughter). None of these people made money for this, so they sure as heck would have played Panic for thousands of dollars.
Oliver tells the story through two third person limited perspectives, Heather and Dodge. The characters are, as expected, not the most likable in fiction, but the cast is interesting, which is the most important thing. Oliver also gave them some depths, back story to explain why they’re taking part in Panic that makes them a bit more sympathetic. People have motivations for their actions, which is always nice in fiction.
Panic has almost constant action and excitement. I called one of the twists, but then it added some nice dramatic irony. Though it’s 400 pages long, I devoured Panic, and it didn’t feel long at all. This isn’t remotely the kind of book I was expecting from Lauren Oliver, but I do like when author’s surprise me, and I really wanted an action-oriented read at this particular time.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Though I really enjoyed reading every page, I’m still not really sure what the point was. The ending verges too closely on an HEA and I’m not really comfortable with how few consequences result for all the people who participate in Panic. Sure, some really bad things happen, but for the scale of this completely idiotic game? Not really. Oliver does keep it from being a complete HEA, but, for all the heavy issues raised, the ending was a bit Noxzema commercial.
The other hesitation I have with Panic is the tigers. Now, I love tigers, but I don’t feel like they were really necessary here. I was somewhat skeptical about Anne, who is this awesome woman, taking in the tigers illegally anyway, but then the way they were used in the plot was even more upsetting.
The Final Verdict:
Do you like reality shows where people do stupid, dangerous things for money? Panic is that in book form. It’s a fun, fast read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This might not be the best choice for those who like their fiction firmly grounded in reality or their characters likable.
In the small town of Carp, there wasn’t much for high school students to do. For years, the seniors have been participating in a game called Panic as a source of adventure. The game involves a series of challenges the participants must perform in order to win. The prize is money collected throughout the school year by the students.
This book is written in third person but divides its focus between Dodge, an outcast from the wrong side of town looking for retribution for an injustice; and Heather, a mixed-up, misplaced girl who has no idea which direction her life is headed. Each of these teens has a different reason for playing the game. What starts as adventure, quickly turns to a game so dangerous it will change their lives forever.
This book was exciting, funny, heart breaking, suspenseful, brave, heart-warming, and hopeful. It provided the right amount of teen angst without sounding whiny. The pace of the story allowed it to be full-of action. But it also took breaks for touching dialogue that provided insight into the individual personalities. These characters were wonderfully written. They had realistic teen responses to some very adult life problems. I was expecting a very different ending based on the atmosphere presented by the author. However, I was extremely pleased. ?
This story had some explicit language and some violence and may not be suitable for readers younger than 14.
I was very pleased with this book and have already downloaded another by this author. She has definitely gained a fan with this book!
I highly recommend this one! This novel earns 4.5 North of Normal Stars!
I didn't know what to expect, yet Panic isn't what I thought it would be, and not in the best way. I wonder how Lauren Oliver, best-selling author of the Delirium series which I loved, could publish this very novel. What happened?
The fact that I rated Panic two and a half stars has everything to do with the following issue: how the supposed plot got put in the background. I find this to be so disappointing because the game was amazing. However it reminded everyone of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, I loved the idea of something like that in realistic circumstances. All the challenges were very well done and I really enjoyed reading every one of them. This plot had potential to be something good, repeating had. This book was full of unnecessary romance and other contemperary drama I didn't sign up for.
To start with the romance, in my opinion it was all over the place. One moment we're focused on this couple and then a break-up and a new romance and another break-up and drama... It was just way too much. I don't understand why Lauren Oliver did this because it didn't bring much to the book as a whole. It was more like filling the pages with the best thing she could come up with. Instead of filling it up with romance, I would have preferred it a lot more if she streched the duration of each challenge. They were over before you knew it and then you had to wait a rather long time before getting to the next one. Furthermore, I didn't like who ended up with who despite the problems they had in their past. Call me stupid, but I didn't find any hints pointing in the direction of them getting together.
Moving on the characters. As I didn't support any romances, you can guess I didn't like many characters either. Natalie was a disgusting, self-centered hellcat who should have died in the game and Lily reminded me way too much of Prim than I should have. Others were rather flat and unlikeable. The only characters who stood out a little were Heather, Dodge and Dayna because of their backstories. I like when certain characters come from poor social environments, especially when they're not whiny or give up way too easily. It shows that they're strong and won't go down without a fight. I recognized this in both the narrators and really appreciated that.
To sum up the last good and bad things, I'd like to start with the good. The plot twists, or twist. I hadn't seen that one coming. I was surprised and excited with this new addition to the game. This also explained why I finished Panic in a jiffy. The challenges kept me going, even though the other dramas were boring and extended for chapters that didn't seem to stop. The climax was the best thing out of the entire novel. Together with the writing, I smiled when I read that last sentence. It ended beautifully, and I wouldn't have wanted it to end any other way. TColour me surprised when I discovered the epilogue. What the duck was that. It seemed like it was taken from a whole other book and was also just completely unnecessary. If I had the physical copy I would have likely ripped out those last pages because they didn't fit the story and, again, unnecessary. I don't know what its importance is, because it seems like there is none.
With an enjoyable pace and challenges that keep you sitting on the edge of your seat, Panic had so much potential to be a great successor to the Delirium series. Colour me surprised when I discovered the messy plot, meh characters and cheesy epilogue. It's not like it was awful, but overall quite the dissapointment.
At the start, the story starts out quite innocuous. The game, though a bit dangerous is a little past-time and entertainment during the summer months. But as the story progresses, the mood shifts darker. The game is deadlier, with challenges that could turn fatal and there are casualties too. The narrative is in dual POV – Heather’s and Dodge’s – two people who are quite similar to each other. One was planning for it and the other was a spur-of-the-moment participant. They form an alliance to help each other out, but they certainly don’t put trust in each other. The secretive nature of the game keeps all the characters second-guessing each others motives and the effects of the game on their personalities and their friendships is actually the main focus of the story. In the plot, the game is the thing that challenges their nature, their principles, their beliefs. The author has constructed the characters such realistically – they aren’t idealistic or something, they aren’t perfect – they are just doing what they can to escape the things bogging them down. Are they a little bad? Yes, they have shades of gray. The lead characters, especially, come from broken homes, and are trying to find a place among the other seemingly normal and perfect people.
The best thing, though, about the book was that I could never guess the direction the story is taking. The storytelling was quite interesting, with the narrative shifting in a way to keep the atmosphere tense and some events were revealed in a retrospective manner. The mystery kept me anxious and my nails are back to stubs thanks to that. The pace, however, was a bit slow for me and coupled with the level of mystery, it was hard stopping myself from skipping paragraphs to see what happens next. It was a good thriller, with a lot of scary moments, and the ending was particularly heart-stopping. Overall, an extremely good standalone from Oliver, once again.
I liked both of the main characters, Heather and Dodge. They had secrets, and reasons why they were entering the games, on why they needed the money. Both of their families have their own backstories and play into the reasons they are playing and want to win. They are both sisters as well, and I loved the individual bonds, and how they grew and changed through the story.
The games though really shocked me. What they planned and the extremely dangerous element to them. They went over the previous years' deaths and that made me think that there was an even higher risk to this year's game. I think that these types of stunts though are def not out of character of a small town summer with nothing for the teens to do. I do think that the planning system and that everyone pays into the pot is kinda unrealistic, but I went with it for the sake of the story.
It was def high adventure and had me scared for what my characters might face next as the group of players gets smaller and smaller. It had me glued to the pages, and I read it quickly, but I don't think this will be one that sticks with me and I think about after, hence the 3.5
I think that Heather really grew and learned a lot through the games as well as through the things that she had to deal with at home. I love the side plot with the lady she gets a job with Anne. Anne has a farm of sorts and rescues animals and hires Heather to help her. The bond that they form is special and I appreciated reading about it and how it developed.
The ending worked out pretty well and matched what I expected from the book. It wrapped things up and even gave up a glimpse at the near future of the characters.
Bottom Line: Fast paced and demanded my attention while reading.
I shouldn’t have been so worried. Panic does have some problems(which I’ll get to) and it’s far from my favorite Lauren Oliver book, but I really do think the contemporary/realistic fiction genre is where Oliver’s writing really shines. Panic reminded me why I list her as one of my favorite writers in the first place, and the way Carp, the small town mentioned in the summary, is portrayed is an excellent reflection of what a lot of my formative years were like(without the giant game of truth-and-dare with potentially deadly consequences).
Basically, the story of Panic is this: Carp is a small, dying town. It’s the kind of place you feel trapped in, even in the modern world that offers you the technology to get OUT(mainly because sometimes it’s very difficult to afford to get out). You can’t really go up after high school graduation–you can only go out, or become stuck forever. And that’s when the game of Panic comes in. It’s a giant game of dares, some deadly, and there’s a winner at the end of the bravery. The prize for that winner? MONEY. And a LOT of it. Which is how you get the people playing Panic who might otherwise never play such a game–they’re desperate. They want out of Carp. And Panic just may let them do it.
I thought Oliver did a fantastic job of writing Heather and Dodge. Neither of them are particularly likable people, but their story is, at heart, a character driven one. Dodge’s desperation shone through page after page. I think I may have found his story most interesting precisely because his reason for playing Panic was so different from most of the students.
Heather reminded me quite a bit of most of the people I went to high school with. People just desperate to get OUT of the small, dying town that was too closed off for even a Wal-Mart. And while Heather made some pretty dumb decisions, I understood most of them. I disagreed with pretty much all of her life choices, and yet I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for her.
But what Oliver really succeeded at wasn’t just capturing these two characters; it was capturing the desperation of teenagers who are desperate for something better, and want the money to achieve it. Many of them put their life at risk willingly if it means dying somewhere else besides Carp. And it just made me remember how I was when I was eighteen, the summer before college, wondering if I was actually going to achieve my goal–if I was actually going to be able to move away from my town where everyone knew me by name, where everyone knew who my family was and things that had happened in my family, and where our biggest attraction was a Chia pet statue commemorating the Chisolm trail(I kid you not). And the way Lauren Oliver portrayed that sense of urgency to get out and go ANYWHERE else was perfect.
However, I did mention I had some pretty big problems with Panic at times. Here’s the thing: I could buy into the premise of Panic at the beginning of the story. It was deadly and dangerous, but sometimes people do deadly and dangerous things, willingly, and think of them as fun. It’s just all a big game. That part was fine. However, something happened midway through the book, and after that happened, I felt the story sort of lost it’s footing a little. Nothing major, but there seemed to be a slight decrease in the quality of the plot and there were a few “filler” scenes that felt unnecessary to me.
The other thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the ending. It wasn’t bad(and definitely nowhere near Requiem-level dislike), but it did feel like everything was sort of rushed. There were a few story lines I felt wrapped up too easily without consequences, which I thought a bit sloppy for this book, since I feel Lauren Oliver has done so well at that in the past. There were some things at the end I was pleased with, and I did like the characters’ journeys, but it was all tinged with the feeling that the resolution happened a little too quickly.