Panic – Lauren Oliver

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

This book was not as I expected. 

1. For the most part, it was really really dark.
Imagine a warm, sunny beach read. This book was set in the summer, and in some aspects, reeked of summer. Imagine being stuck in a dead-end town with nothing to do for months, with the sun beating down on you and the smog and barbecue smoke casting a hazy tinge over everything. I’ll give this book that — it had great, vivid imagery. The pathetic fallacy and scene setting made me feel like I was an omniscient force looking down on Carp. But aside from the setting, everything was shrouded in darkness. The tasks. The characters. The motives. The sadness and despair was perpetual. While that’s not necessarily bad (in fact, some might say the dichotomy enhanced the story), I found it a little discomforting and very unexpected. 

2. The ending was disappointing.
This book was a journey and a struggle. But the ending ruined it all. It sent a message that money is simply a quick-fix for everything. Money adds another dimension, and that’s not always good. How will Heather know that things with Bishop fixed themselves organically? She shouldn’t have reason to believe otherwise, but STILL. I also can’t believe that Dodge’s situation actually worked out (somehow). Even thinking of his thirst for revenge was sickening. BUT WAIT, what happened to the Hanrahan brothers?! What happened to Dayna?! Bill Kelly? There were a lot of loose ends (but definitely not enough to warrant or signal a sequel). And what about Panic? There is something seriously wrong and messed up about that game. Yet nothing prevents it from continuing. Will Lily end up in a similar situation? I sincerely hope not.

3. The execution
I remember a book just like this called Crushing Summer. In both cases, I expected a fun story with crazy tasks, something like The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando. It was nothing like that. There were deaths. These teens were way in over their heads. It showed primal instincts and the deep end of the human mind (the side no one wants to venture off into). It showed the worst in people. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for.

Related Reading

  • Pieces of Us – Marie Gelbwasser
  • Crushing Summer – C.M. Stunich
  • Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  • The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle
  • Burn for Burn – Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Rating: 3.5/5

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