July 2nd, 2014


by Lauren Oliver

Ana's Rating

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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 game, they say, is life. But what’s a game without a prize? Listless teenagers in small-town Carp have solved that problem. The stakes have been laid out, one by one, the contestants are familiar faces, and the challenges deadly. The blue ribbon? 67, 000$.  No one said it would be easy, but they promised it would be worth it. If you come out in one piece, that is.

So many reviewers have argued that the game of Panic is not plausible enough to have burgeoned into being and to have existed, in all of its perilous gravity, for so long. I tend to disagree on sheer principle. Because is it likely that a bunch of teenagers’ boredom yielded such life-threatening backwash? No. But is it conceivable? Unquestionably. The proof is in la bête humaine‘s rather primeval pudding. Especially given the fact that this a work of what is commonly known as fiction. Besides, I don’t think anyone argued with William Golding about the likelihood of the developments in Lord of the Flies, and look at how well that turned out!

These characters are definitely a new angle for Oliver, and I have to say that she managed well. Our protagonists aren’t necessarily very likeable people, but then again Dodge is, arguably, within the bounds of the ‘raging psychopath’ ballpark. It turns out that HarperCollins wasn’t kidding when they pronounced Panic to be somewhat of a psychological thriller. And I may not have experienced any especially fuzzy feelings towards Heather or Dodge– honestly, Heather is really rather whiny when she wants to be– and I may not have been able to connect with them in full, and they may not have been as fleshed out as they could have been, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. The characters’ motives for participating in Panic, whether mind-numbingly witless or deliciously spiteful, were a delight to encounter.

The writing is good. Honestly, Lauren Oliver’s writing is always good. Pigs will fly and blue moons will wane before Lauren Oliver’s writing is anything but good. If you are broke and living on nothing but stale granola bars and crappy instant coffee, and no, Mom, you don’t need meditative yoga or a new life goal or a caffeine detox, all you need is a constant in your life, the only thing I can suggest to you at this time is the unfailing goodness of Lauren Oliver’s writing. Was I disappointed that she deigned to use words such as “pimply” and “butt”? Yes. I cannot lie. However my faith remains unwavering. We love you, Lauren Oliver. Never change.

Panic‘s tragic flaw, really, is its lack of tragedy. Its epilogue is just so… predictable. Agreeable. Bland. Is it awful to say that I’m loathing this happy ending? But after this book’s disillusionments and unveilings, plot twists and turns, and flurries of action and hoopla– well. It’s a bit of an anticlimax, isn’t it? I couldn’t help but be dismayed at the measly lasting impression that Panic proffered.

Another little hitch in this novel’s otherwise flawless figure is the inordinate disparity of its pacing. Fundamentally, Panic‘s plot revolves around the game’s challenges. Everything in between is lamentably slow-paced. This put me quite on edge, actually, because I went from bouts of heart-stopping, breath-catching, seat-edging, page-turning, absolute suspense, to really rather drab bits of lethargy. The book’s cover model, as it turns out, is not the only one suffering from whiplash.

Admittedly, Panic will not go down in history as my favourite Lauren Oliver novel. It had its moments, for sure, but failed to live up to its full potential. That being said, I personally can’t wait to see what Oliver tackles next– she’s done dystopia, she’s done tear-jerker, and she’s done outrageous-adolescent-escapades. Who knows what the future holds? Recommended for adrenaline junkies, vicarious adrenaline junkies, and invincible teenage die hards. 3.8/5 stars.

I’ll keep you posted,


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