Panic by Lauren Oliver
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
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.
There was one real reason as to why I picked Panic up in the first place: redemption. I really enjoyed Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series, and her debut novel Before I Fall. However, the last book in the Delirium series really left a sour taste in my mouth after I finished, and I wasn’t too keen on reading more Oliver after my experience with Requiem. However, when I saw this book, I just couldn’t resist, and so I requested it hoping that this was going to be phenomenal. I hoped Lauren Oliver would redeem herself. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case, because while this was a decent read, there were too many issues for me to fully enjoy Panic.
One of the things I truly did like, however, was the concept. I mean, the whole idea of a game called Panic sounds very dystopian, but this is actually a contemporary book. The idea is just flat out creative in my eyes, similar to what’s been done before, but unique in its own way. While I have to admit a lot of the challenges were subpar, the idea behind them was always neat to read about. It was also interesting to see how the game even developed in the first place, and the effects it had on the players and judges.
Interestingly enough, I also enjoyed the family issues touched upon in this book. Family is something not even touched upon in the summary, and this certainly doesn’t seem like the kind of book that delves into the topic of family. Yet, it does, and it was those moments that I truly liked. Heather’s family life is so disrupted, and it’s interesting to watch her struggle through everything and try to find people to trust. It was an intriguing background for the game to play out on, and I’m glad Oliver decided to include this aspect in the book. It was touching to read about and added some much needed depth.
However, that’s where the good mainly ends for me, unfortunately. The main issue I had with this book was that it was just so… MEH. That was my final thought upon finishing Panic. For a book that was supposed to be high-stakes, edge-of-your-seat there was just way too little suspense. I found that if I wanted to, I could simply put this book down and not really be bothered to pick it up again. The drama, the tension, all of just seemed missing to me. A lot of that can be attributed to me not really connecting to the characters, although I liked them enough. There wasn’t enough depth to any of the characters for me to truly form a bond with them, and so that made this thriller quite un-thriller-y (yes, we’re just going to pretend that’s a word).
Also, I’m not really sure what to make of this book’s plot. If you can really call it that, actually. This ‘plot’ really just seemed like more of a random confluence of events. Nothing seemed connected, and the plot seemed haphazard at best. There were some really good opportunities to make this book’s plot into something truly amazing, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen at all, which is quite surprising with Oliver, who can normally write a riveting plot.
Overall, Panic was a book with a wonderful concept. It delved into some family issues that added a lot of depth. However, that’s where the good really ends. The suspense in this so called thriller was lacking, because I couldn’t find much depth in the main characters, and the plot seemed random. This book was supposed to be Oliver’s redemption for me, but it unfortunately fell short of the line.