Published by HarperCollins on 04-03-2014
Genres: Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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 is one of those books that seems to have confused people’s expectations. I’m not sure whether it’s because people had preconceptions of Lauren Oliver, or whether the blurb was too vague, or whether it was a bit like a game of chinese whispers, but I saw so many people who tagged/referred to Panic as dystopian.
Panic is most definitely not dystopian. It’s a contemporary story of a group of teenagers who push themselves to their limits (and beyond) to try and win a jackpot that would change their lives forever.
For Dodge, Panic has always been on the cards. He has a secret, and Panic is a key part of that secret, and coping with it. For Heather, Panic is a spur of the moment decision, fuelled by anger, unhappiness, and a desire to prove herself. For Nat, Panic is about the money. For Bishop, Panic is a risk, one he wishes his friends wouldn’t get themselves into. The teenagers each have their own motivations, but all four are drawn into a world of secrets, drama, and danger.
Panic is of course, about the game, and once the game began, I was hooked. I wanted to know what the next challenge would be, who would go through, who would drop out, and above all, who would win. The game keeps you hooked: it’s the dramatic, high intensity plot-line that has you flicking through pages feverishly, up until 2am dying to know what happens next. Despite that, it’s definitely not all the book is about, and Panic is a truly multi-layered story.
As well as the game itself, there’s also romance, which I enjoyed. Perhaps most brilliant is the way Lauren Oliver has written the characters, the insight into their personalities as they cope with the psychological toll of the game, and the way they grow throughout the story. Whether you like the characters or hate them, I found all four to be three-dimensional, and completely realistic.
I found I had to suspend my disbelief a few times in the story, because in a tiny dead-end town like Carp, where everyone knows everyone’s business, there were an awful lot of secrets. The banned game of Panic is not particularly discreetly played, there are relationships and associations people know nothing about, and a fair amount of law-breaking. In that sense, Panic felt a bit unbelievable, but once I suspended my disbelief, I enjoyed it.
My only real issue with Panic was the ending, which I was slightly disappointed by. Obviously I can’t say much about that without spoilers, so all I’ll say is that I felt it was a little too neat for me. If you’re curious, there’s a spoiler-laden paragraph further down the page!
Buy it? This is one that’s worth buying for me (but probably on a deal).
In a nutshell: Great characters, and a quick, gripping read, but this didn’t live up to Delirium.
I have a few thoughts on the ending that I wanted to share, so don’t read on if you haven’t read the book yet!
The ending for Panic was the one thing that really bothered me. Heather goes on to study veterinary services at a local college. Now it’s never really explained EXACTLY what that course will entail, but it just didn’t seem to work to me.
Heather liked working with Anne to help the animals, of course, but the reasons she liked doing this felt more to do with the routine, the style of life Anne had, and working with Anne herself.
“She didn’t want to admit that for the most part she thought animals, like pimples, were best to ignore.” [21%]
“It was amazing how much she loved making the rounds, cleaning out the chicken coop and brushing the horses down and even sweeping the stalls.” [89%]
To me, working in a stables, at an animal sanctuary, a farm or maybe even a zoo seemed more in line with the role and routine Heather liked. A veterinary course felt forced and cliche, and for me, it just didn’t work, because it’s a totally different (not necessarily better, just different) role to her helping out at Anne’s. All animal jobs are not interchangeable, in the same way as the roles of novelist, journalist, travel writer and academic writer are not interchangeable, and this just didn’t work for me.
The whole ending in fact, just felt too neat for me. Nat’s compulsions are never really addressed, Anne’s illegally kept tiger turns out to be tame, the homeless man’s death turns out to have been unrelated to the game, and the only person who seems to face any consequences at all is Bishop. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the story, the ending just felt a little bit ineffectual, and meant Panic had a lesser impact overall.