Author: Lauren Oliver
Release: March 4th 2014
Pages: 416 (eBook)
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 was so excited when I received an ARC of Panic. Having read Before I Fall and the entire Delirium trilogy, I have become a solid fan of Oliver's writing and imagination, and as soon as I saw the synopsis for this, I knew I was going to love it. Whether she is writing a series or a stand-alone, Oliver delivers.
Post-graduation and summer for the seniors in the small town of Carp means only one thing: Panic. Panic is a summer-long game where seniors compete against one another to win the jackpot of money collected throughout the school year. As they pass challenge after challenge, the stakes are raised and the difficulty intensifies. However, not everyone is out to play fair, and not everyone is out to win the money. For some, it's pride; for others, it's revenge. As Heather and Dodge compete in the games alongside friend Natalie with the ever-loyal Bishop watching, they are about to find out that Panic is a whole lot more than just a pot of gold.
Panic is like Fight Club. The first rule of Panic? Don't talk about Panic. I immediately thought it was an ingenious idea, the kind of thing you'd expect to see in a horror film - as soon as you hear about it, you just know there's going to be danger and death at every corner. The idea of Panic filled the plot with tension and curveballs - you suspected everyone and second-guessed every motive behind whatever was said. This one idea turned the book into an intense thriller - I can only imagine what it would look like if the novel was transformed into a film.
I didn't think I'd like Heather to begin with. The first glimpse we get of her is just after her boyfriend (who is a slimy idiot, shudder!) breaks up with her, and we're privy to her emotions of desperation and loss. I thought she was going to be another one of those heroines who can't function without a man on her arm - you know, the really annoying ones - but she actually surprised me by doing a complete 180. Heather is a surprisingly strong and resilient character, not only going through the trials of Panic to prove something to herself, but also battling with a bitter home-life and an uncertain future.
Dodge I didn't warm to, despite wanting to. As soon as I read his description I was jumping for joy - an ethnic main character, everyone! Hallelujah! However, he was the owner of the worst personality possible, and I spent his POVs wanting to slap the heck out of him. He's just a bit vile and a little too hell-bent on revenge for my liking. I can appreciate his part in the plot and his contribution, but I far preferred reading the story from Heather's viewpoint.
Although I've only thoroughly gone over the characterisation of the main protagonists, I have to say that the characterisation on a whole was brilliant, as per usual. Many secondary characters are given backstories and you get a sense that each and every one of them has the potential to be a real human being. This added to the realism of the thriller in general and made it a believable story.
It safe to say that I really enjoyed Panic, though I never believed I wouldn't. Whilst part of me (the Delirium-hangover part of me) wants Oliver to just keep writing a series, it was nice to have a stand-alone novel; it was short but brilliant, and I've got my fingers crossed that this isn't pushed into a trilogy because I think it would ruin the uniqueness of the plot. If you love Oliver's books, I'd definitely recommend you read this. If Oliver is a new author to you, I think I'd recommend trying the Delirium trilogy first, just because it makes you realise the extent to which this author is capable of.