Review: Panic, Lauren Oliver

May 1, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Panic, Lauren OliverPanic by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperTEEN on March 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

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.


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.

This was such an enjoyable and engrossing contemporary novel.  I absolutely loved the Delirium series and while Panic is a completely different setting, the writing is fantastic and Lauren Oliver fans should expect to get hooked in.

Set in the small town of Carp the story centres around graduated high school students who each year can participate in an underground game called Panic.  Panic is dangerous, the stakes are high but the pay off for the person who wins is huge – approximately $65 000.  The town of Carp is poor, filled with low income earners, ignorance and poverty, each year the winner of Panic has a chance to end the cycle of dysfunction and start afresh which is why even though its illegal and people have actually died playing, the lure of the game continues for the next group of school leavers.

The 2 main characters are Heather and Dodge who both desperately want to win. Heather needs the money and Dodge wants revenge. The story is told from both viewpoints with alternating chapters told from each characters perspective adding elements to the story and weaving in motives and backstories effortlessly.  The 2 secondary characters are also equally engaging and while you don’t get the story from their perspective you still feel you know them and their  roles in the over arching story.

For all that this is a fantastical made up situation I felt that the premise really rang true.  I could imagine this happening in a middle of nowhere deadbeat town and ending up on the news one day after a tragedy occured.  The issues dealt with in the story are real and some are incredibly confronting including one of the challenges which involved playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun. While it seems extreme, Oliver manages to make this very plausible and relevant to today’s teens.

This was a wonderful stand alone contemporary novel and I enjoyed how by the end of the story you didn’t know who you wanted to actually win Panic.  It was a nail biting, read in one sitting book for me and I loved every minute of it!

four-half-stars – Great concept, engaging contemporary novel

Email | Goodreads | | Twitter | Instagram Philippa lives in Brisbane, Australia with her partner and two daughters. She is an avid reader and reviewer of Young Adult literature as well as being a student midwife, closet geek, procrastibaker and coffee addict.

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