Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: March 4th 2014
Length: 416 pages
Keywords: YA, fiction, contemporary, thriller, romance, danger, dares, game
Source: Publisher

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.

Summary by Goodreads


Carp, a small town, a place without prospects and the last place a teenager like Heather wants to get stuck. Even when Lauren Oliver doesn't write dystopian fiction or fantastical Middle Grade worlds, I still experienced her YA contemporary setting as if I were a part of the dangerous game of Panic.
In PANIC Lauren Oliver observes what young people come up with when they are bored out of their minds in a town like Carp. Born out of hopelessness for a better future, thoughts are wandering to darker places. They need money to get out of there. They need something that keeps them alive. The thrill, the possibility at something grand. And so they risk everything in something they call a game. Panic.

I can't emphasize enough that Lauren's characters are never like any characters from other novels, and even in an assemblage of characters from her own pen, I can't think of any other character that compares to Heather or Dodge. And I very much admire Lauren Oliver for writing about uncommon characters with rough edges and unique stories to tell, rather than pen down the characters that people are used to or should want to read about.

PANIC is as much about the game as about the characters' lives that are at risk. We witness the problematic home life of two teens who are brought together by chance. Heather cares about her little sister more than anything. They need to get out of Carp as soon as possible and leave their useless mother behind, if they want to have a shot at a future worth living.
Dodge's story and incentive to participate in Panic circle around his sister, too, and something terrible that happened to her in the past. You will read more about the bonds between the siblings and the friendship between Heather, her friends Natalie and Bishop, and Dodge. Natalie and Bishop were two secondary characters so worth getting to know. I think I even liked Bishop best out of all the PANIC characters. 

The romantic ties in this story are knotting themselves into surprisingly different patterns than I expected them when I first heard about this story. I thought Heather and Dodge just had to grow together and start having romantic feelings for each other, with them both being main characters and both having their own chapters. But nuh-uh. Not Heather and Dodge. They are both finding someone else worth fighting for.

The longer the game of Panic is running, the bets and dares are becoming more extreme and dangerous. Heather isn't fearless, she's anything but, but she has something to fight for. A better future for herself and her sister. Meanwhile Dodge isn't taking the game too seriously, he's simply after revenge. For his sister who is paralysed. And Dodge can't wait to show the guy who hurt her that revenge can hurt a lot worse.
They both go into the game with very different motivations. Heather and Dodge are from two different worlds it seems. Somehow along the way to the final round of this game, they notice that nothing is as it seems. In the end both experience what it means to make sacrifices for the things that are dearest to them, to take the risk and what it means to say 'No'. Also, how it feels to face your biggest fears and figurative enemies and how brilliant the reward can be once you've overcome them.

4/5 **** PANIC - The YA world has never been more ready to play such a sinister and wicked game as Panic, crafted by the one and only, genuinely talented Lauren Oliver. You should dread and desire this book to equal parts.

Lauren Oliver's writing is once again thrilling and fast-paced. Her characters are driven by strong emotions and needs. Future, past, isolation, hope, dreams and fears. With its dark undertone, the daring, hiding, running and surviving that have to be mastered, PANIC is one of the most extreme and dangerous YA books in early 2014.

"In seven years of playing, there have been three deaths - four including Tommy O'Hare, who shot himself with the second thing he'd bought at the pawn shop, after his number came up red. You see? Even the winner of Panic is afraid of something." ― p. 8-9

PANIC you might enjoy NEARLY GONE by Elle Cosimano, THE MURDER COMPLEX by Lindsay Cummings or DEAR KILLER by Katherine Ewell. They aren't exactly like PANIC, but all are pretty dangerous and scary.

* Fans of Lauren Oliver, don't miss her adult book ROOMS, coming out September 2014!

* Listen to Lauren Oliver read the first chapter of PANIC here.

* Want to meet Lauren Oliver? Check out her event schedule.

* For more information about Lauren and her books visit

* Thanks to Harper Collins International for sending me a copy of PANIC for review!


  1. I am definitely intrigued by this one. Maybe,even a little nervous. I tend to get a little stressed out when the stakes are high. But you may have convinced me to give this one a go.

    Great review,

    ~Sara @ Just Another Story

  2. I've only read Oliver's Before I Fall but I loved it. I really need to give some of her other books a try. I really like the sound of this one as it seems fast-paced.

  3. I need to read this book. I love Lauren Oliver and I think I will like Panic. I have to wait to publish it in my country
    Thanks for you review :)