November 8, 2013

Early Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 14+
Stand alone book
Release Date: March 14

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.

I loved Lauren Oliver's book Before I Fall.  It is long lasting favorite of mine.  I also read Delirium and enjoyed it as well (I never did go on to the rest of the series tho), so when I was able to get an advanced copy of her new book Panic I was really excited.  Now that I've finished it, I have mixed emotions.  Really mixed emotions.  There were parts I enjoyed a lot, but some parts seemed predictable.  Without having spoilers, I can't tell you exactly what I found predictable.

I liked the fact that Oliver went back to realistic fiction with this book.  (Although Before I Fall is NOT complete realistic fiction it feels like it) There is so much dystopia and fantasy that is was nice to go back to something real! The main character Heather was great.  She is so strong! Heather's mom is really not a mom.  She drinks, doesn't come home sometimes, and treats them like an inconvenience sometimes.  Heather uses this to push herself to try to be better. She takes care of her little sister Lily and because more a mom to her.  But at the same time, she has a typical teenage experience - boyfriends, good friends, parties.  I liked that there was this balance.  It made her seem more realistic.  It also made her decision to join the game Panic less understandable to me! That was ok though because even she isn't completely sure why she decided to join.  The other characters were good too.  The character of Dodge was good even though as a person I didn't care for him.  I understand why he was the way he was, so I got him.  Natalie, Heather's best friend, could have been developed more as well as Bishop another friend.  

I also liked Panic itself. You need to understand that this is a long standing tradition for graduating seniors that everyone at least gives money to the pot that goes to the winner! You can opt out of playing Panic, but you can't opt out of 100% of it.  I loved how Panic showed how desperate some kids are to get out of the life they've been handed, and how they'll do anything to take a chance to get out. You see Panic can be deadly.  So here are kids willing to take that much of a risk for a way out.  As an adult I can see the error in their willingness to play because I know there are other ways to get out of the place they are in now - but I could see and understand why they joined. 

What I didn't like - or what bothered me...  There was a huge part of the plot that I couldn't buy into as well because I saw from the start where it was headed.  I could tell that it was put into the story for one purpose, and when it actually happened in the story I was saying "I told you so"! This held me back from truly really really liking the book.  It was too coincidental or something but it bothered me. I'm sorry I can't go into detail about exactly what this was, but I don't want to spoil anything!

Final thought:  I liked it but was held back from LOVING it.

For the guys?  Hmmmmm I'd love to say yes.  It does give the perspective of another player in the game, Dodge, so they'd get a boy's view.  But I'm not sure that would be enough for this story to really appeal to boys.  

Note: this book is clearly for ages 14+  These are graduating seniors, so some of the things they say and do are clearly not for the younger age group.  

1 comment:

  1. I don't read much YA, so hadn't heard of this one. Thanks for telling me about it. I might pick it up.