Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

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Title: Panic

Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Bought
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.


My Review: 

This is Lauren Oliver's latest novel, a YA stand alone contemporary. Her first YA stand alone contemporary was also her debut novel, Before I Fall. I enjoyed Before I Fall and her Delirium trilogy with accompanying novelas. I've had the lucky opportunity to meet Lauren Oliver more than once and even attend a writing workshop she taught when she was in my hometown (which was insanely surreal and amazing) and overall, I really enjoy Lauren Oliver's work. Her writing is beautiful, lyrical, sharp and knows exactly what to say. I was really looking forward to reading this novel about bored kids in a dead end town playing death defying games during the summer. Unfortunately, however, I was disappointed. 

Oliver has a real talent for creating beautifully fleshed out characters that all have their own backstories and personalities, not just the main characters but the secondary ones as well. Dodge and Heather's third person POVs had their own voices that fit with their distinctive personalities which some authors do not excel at but over the course of the novel, I didn't find myself connecting with any of the characters. Heather, the main protagonist who was presented as the person to root for to win Panic, I found her two-dimensional and gullible and barely developed as a character over the course of the novel. 

The lack of connection I felt for any of the characters pretty much killed the story for me and the crazy challenges that the contestants had to do were not just dangerous but absolutely stupid. Challenges such as walking across a highway blindfolded (!), playing with tigers (!!) and Russian roulette (!!!!!). It showed that the kids competing were so desperate to win cash that they risk dying over it. This, I thought, was a great theme that the author presented and fleshed out throughout the novel. 

I give Panic two stars because I think that the concept had potential, but failed in its execution, especially concerning the characters which surprised me since characters are usually wonderfully created by Lauren Oliver.

Have you read Panic? What did you like/dislike about it? 

Let me know in the comments! 

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