Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: March 4th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Categories: Contemporary, Dystopia, Young Adult
External Links: Book Depository • Goodreads

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.

Review: I don’t know how to properly explain but Panic by Lauren Oliver is somewhat unclear to me. It does have that typical dystopian set-up but the story and how the characters moved along with it made it different to me. In a glance, it sounded like other YA Dsytopia novels out there being the game as an important piece of the story. But the game itself is not really the most substantial part, it was the characters and how they played the game.

To be totally honest, I found the entire idea kinda fuzzy. And while it did explain the origin (although in itself admitted that no one knew or when Panic had begun) and the mechanics of the game, I still felt something lacking. It was at first hard for me to grasp on why they did what they did. Yes, they, the story have four integral characters, Heather, Bishop, Nat & Dodge, with being Heather & Dodge as the main focus. I always encounter problem dealing with too many characters in one book. I’m the type of reader who concentrates in one story at a time. And while I think that it did help me see things beyond, I still would have preferred if it focused with only one (but that’s just me).

So that’s what I did, I concentrate on just one character. Heather failed to capture my attention from the very start. She was sort of scattered for me and her motivations as well as her stance on the whole matter didn’t really look solid to me. Honestly, I found her action, reckless and a bit contrived.  Dodge on the other hand, was quite unclear at first. I kept questioning his motivations and actions. But also, I wanted to know the reason why he was doing it. He wanted to win the game. He was doing it for someone. He was going to play the game for revenge. And that got me totally hooked on his side of the story. What I liked about him is that he was very aware that his objective was somewhat futile in the grand scheme of things. He cannot take back what he lost just by winning. He knew that but still he was firmed about it. I guess, even though I didn’t agree on his entire intention, I somehow I understood why he was doing it. He wanted to inflict it to the people who had hurt him in order to have an equal footing.

I think the aspect that made this book stands out is the ambiguity of it. Like I mentioned before, it does sound like dytopian book but in all honesty, what I saw was more of the internal conflicts of the characters. It’s not about the system, it’s not really about the bigger things. For me, it’s more about them. It’s about themselves and the reason why they were willing to play Panic.

I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Preview Quote: “You see? Even the winner of Panic is afraid of something.”