Review: Panic - Lauren Oliver

Release Date: March 4rd 2014
Published By: Harper Collins
Pages: 416
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 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.

Review: I love Lauren Oliver. I feel like I should start my review by telling you all this upfront. I loved her Delirium series, and Panic is another winner.

Panic tells the story of two teenagers - Heather and Dodge. Both of them are entrants in a game known as Panic. The game can only be played by high school seniors, and there is significant prize money up for grabs. More than $60,000 - enough to get your life started when high school finishes. The only problem is that Panic is illegal. And Panic is illegal because people get seriously hurt. Sometimes they die even. But for Heather and Dodge, it’s a no brainer really. Heather needs the money, and Dodge needs revenge.

The storyline itself was a really intriguing one for me. There’s a real element of truth to this story from the perspective that teenagers like to challenge each other and dare each other to try new things. Sometimes the things they do are reckless and dangeous, but to feel like they belong with the pack they go along anyways. This is definitely a clear underlying message throughout the story. The fiction element is the game that is known as Panic.

The contestants all come from really different backgrounds and have involved personal lives. Heather comes from a dysfunctional home and has a mother who is addicted to substances and a younger sister to protect and look after. The money would help her get out of there. And Dodge’s older sister Dayna participated in Panic a couple of years ago as a senior, and has since then lost the ability of her legs. Since the younger brother of the guy who caused Dayna’s paralysis is playing Panic this year, Dodge is out for revenge.

I really enjoyed the sub characters as well - Nat and Bishop. I felt like in their own way their characters were just as big as Heather and Dodge, but we didn’t get to read from their perspectives. Nat is Heathers best friend and Dodge’s love interest and Bishop is Heather’s friend also. Whilst there was one major storyline, there was quite a few subplots throughout. The flow of the story was perfect though, and the only way I can describe how I felt about this was “sucked in”. This book commands your full attention - I loved it.

Some people have compared this story to The Hunger Games. Don’t listen to those people - that is nonsense. I don’t think it’s fair for people to compare any book to another book solely because there is a “game” involved that people are playing. Because by the same token, I should be then comparing this to the Saw movies - illogical. This book was SO different to THG and any comparison just honestly makes me shrivel up a little on the inside. If anything, Panic is more like truth or dare, just with the truth element taken out. THG is a dystopian series, and Panic is a very real feeling contemporary novel that has characters with real issues. Don’t get me wrong, I adore THG series… but I do hate comparisons.

Panic is an amazing book in it’s own right, and absolutely worthy of the praise it’s receiving. The idea behind it is very original. I haven’t read a story like this one, and I enjoyed the elements of suspense throughout. Who was going to make it? Who is going to be the next to be eliminated? And since we become attached to several characters, who deserves to win more? Just when you think you have this book figured out, we are hit with the twist. And then when you think you have the ending figured out, we’re hit with the second HUGE twist. I also liked how this was nicely presented in a standalone novel - start, middle end in one book. I felt like the ending was just right. Lauren Oliver, you win with this.

First Chapter read by Lauren Oliver:

What do you think?

  • It really threw me how people compared this to The Hunger Games. First, I got it sort of confused in my mind with Fire & Flood (I guess because it’s also being compared to THG)…but comparing Panic is just weird! It’s not even in the same genre! I was pretty confused going in because I thought it was an epic and/or dystopian, you know? Eh. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I did like the sparse writing.

    • Melissa says:

      I realise Panic won’t be everyone’s cup of tea because as you said it’s almost quote dystopian flavour but in a contemporary setting. It took me a few chapters, but I enjoyed it!

      Agree - comparisons aren’t cool!
      Melissa recently posted…W..W..W.. WednesdaysMy Profile

  • Francoise says:

    I really want to read this! I haven’t read her Delirium series yet but I want to read that as well. I can see the resemblance to Hunger Games though but you’re right, they have no right to compare just because there’s a game in it.

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