by Lauren Oliver

Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: March 4th, 2014
by HarperCollins




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.


“Why did you play?” he asked.
Revenge, Dodge thought, and because I have nothing else. But out loud he said, “Money. Why else?”

Entertaining if nothing else, Lauren Oliver has delivered another well-rounded novel. While it was certainly entertaining, unfortunately, it didn’t exactly leave a lasting impression and required quite a bit of suspension of disbelief to be reasonable; which resulted in a slight disconnect I had with the characters and simply the book in general.

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

In the small town of Carp, New York, each year there is a contest. Every day for a year, each student is forced to donate “tax” – $1 per day – into a jackpot, which ends up ranging from $50,000 to $68,000. From there, all high school seniors are invited to play in this game and have a shot of winning the jackpot.

In the game, you’re exposed to your worst fears and other life-threatening activities – ranging from walking across a busy highway blindfolded to petting a rabid tiger. The last contestant to succumb to their fears wins.

Our story follows two Panic contestants – Heather and Dodge; who are each playing the game for different reasons – Dodge for revenge, Heather for trying to start a new life with her little sister Lily after her mother continues to neglect her.

I never really connected with either of their characters, and I was honestly annoyed by them for both for the majority of the story. What really concerned me though is that there was no character arcs whatsoever, and none of the characters learn something from their mistakes or “change for the better,” and that was disappointing.

One of my biggest problems, though, is the suspension of disbelief the story requires. Since participating in a game so dangerous as Panic is illegal, knowledge of the game is kept secret only to the participants and other children. I found it highly unbelievable, though, that no adult would be able to find out about the game.

All in all, Panic was enjoyable, but it left no lasting impression on me, which was disappointing. In all honesty, it simply bored me, which I was not expecting considering how character-driven this is. I know many reviewers have felt the same way, and I sincerely hope Lauren is not losing her magic touch.


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