Book Review: Panic

“It was so strange, the way that life moved forward: the twists and the dead ends, the sudden opportunities. She supposed if you could predict or foresee everything that was going to happen, you’d lose the motivation to go through it all. The promise was always in the possibility.”
― Lauren Oliver, Panic
Book Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: 2014
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 3.63 Stars 
My Rating: 4.25 Stars

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.

 1. This is the worst marketed book in all of history. Seriously. When you read the blurb, you think Hunger Games, but more realistic. This is not the Hunger Games. I repeat, this is NOT the Hunger Games. For one, the characters are much more realistic, and the setting is obviously a town that could be my hometown anywhere in the rural United States. Secondly, the cover is awful and completely doesn’t say anything about the story. Then there’s also the fact that it is marketed as a love story, when that is such a small part of the novel (kinda like the Divergent movie trailer.. Let me not go off on a tangent here.) The novel is obviously marketed to teen girls who want a good love story, and this novel just isn’t that. If I hadn’t saw it mentioned on The Perpetual Page-Turner, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have picked up the novel.

2. The setting is completely captivating. The small town setting really brought me into the novel. I’m having trouble describing what makes it so unique. Certainly, I’ve seen towns like this one in other novels. Maybe it’s because the setting is so ingrained in the characters, and the small town feel with the pettiness of gossip and habitual drug use really struck a chord with me. The novels I’ve read with similar small town settings have shown the characters moving on from the town, and this one really doesn’t. I can’t seem to put my finger on it, but this setting is definitely something I haven’t seen before.

3. The game is CRAZY. Ok, so with Hunger Games and other things like that, it was easy to separate yourself from the games. It was obviously a fictional world. In Panic, the setting is so realistic, it made me feel like these were real people. And the way that Lauren Oliver describes each level of the game, well… I was biting my nails each time Heather and Nat and Dodges went up against something truly terrifying. The fact that the judges of this game didn’t mind if someone died (or set up the challenges with the complete possibility that someone could die) really threw me for a loop.

4. It is written in third person. So this is just a personal note. I’ve found that the more I write these reviews, the more I find that I muuuuuch prefer novels written in first person. It really helps me get into the heads of the characters. This novel was written in third person, and while I did connect with Heather, I felt like I was watching something play out instead of being fully invested in it. Of course, this is just silly preference.

“She knew, now, that there was always light—beyond the dark, and the fear, out of the depths; there was sun to reach for, and air and space and freedom.
There was always a way up, and out, and no need to be afraid.”“She thought all you needed to do – all any of them needed – was to get out. But maybe you carried your demons with you everywhere, the way you carried your shadow.”

“No one should be allowed to be happy when you were so miserable – especially not your best friends. It should be a law.”

“She felt as though, just for a second, she had understood something vastly important, had had a glimpse of it: love, pure and simple and undemanding.”

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