Panic by Lauren Oliver
Published: March 4th, 2014 (HarperCollins)
Source: ARC via Edelweiss
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ ½
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.
The premise for Panic sounds thrilling and that, plus the fact that it was written by Lauren Oliver, made me want to get my paws on it. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed when I finished.
A town with teenagers who have nothing to do so they come up with a game that literally is life or death in its tasks. Sounds exciting, yes? Unfortunately, the excitement doesn't come off the pages while reading. The story is told from the perspective of Heather, a girl with an addicted mom, no father and a sister who depends on her, and the perspective of Dodge, a guy whose sole purpose in life is to avenge his sister's car crash that took place during an earlier edition of Panic. At first, Dodge is the outsider -- until Nat, Heather's best friend, takes an interest in Dodge. So they hang out together, the three of them plus Heather's other best friend, Bishop. They enter Panic all for their own reasons. The only one not participating is Bishop and he spends his time trying to talk Heather out of the game. While the story unfolds it is clear that everything surrounding Panic is a huge mystery and people are only informed of the tasks by anonymous texts just before the task is about to take place.
My main problem with this book was that nothing really came to life. The characters didn't have enough depth for me and the tasks in Panic didn't scream DANGER so much to me. They were incredibly dangerous, yet Heather and Dodge make it seem like a walk in the park. I would have liked a more realistic approach to this. Sure, these teens sign up for the thrill of it, but you can't tell me you wouldn't be scared shitless if you'd have to cross a highway blindfolded. Nope.
Another thing that didn't work for me was the lack of chemistry between the characters. Where Oliver really shines in terms of chemistry and relationship development in Before I Fall, the story of Panic lacks exactly those qualities that made me love her debut so much. There was a bit of banter between Heather and Bishop, but it didn't come alive. I didn't feel it. So no, I didn't ship it. I was kind of shipping something different, but eh.
For me, it felt like Heather had it too easy while performing the tasks. Too many things just happened to be there, or happen in a particular way that was beneficial to her. If she's in a game that's designed to test your bravery, you'd best be brave. Terrified, but brave. It all worked out a little too perfect for my liking.
So to sum it all up; I liked the idea, and it wasn't all bad. It was okay enough for me to finish, but that's all. To be honest, the more I think about it, the less I like the book. It wasn't for me, but hopefully my next Lauren Oliver book will restore my love for her writing.