Panic by Lauren Oliver
Published on March 4, 2014 by Harper Collins
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.
Panic by Lauren Oliver centers around Heather and Dodge, two graduated high school seniors, from a remote and shanty town called Carp. Over the summer, both enroll in an annual competition — PANIC, which has the very effect that its name implies. Each of the players are faced with a series of tests, as their fears are played on and used to weed out those who want the jackpot, from those who need it.
And for what? A jackpot of 67K.
I, for one, loved the survival-of-the-fittest // every-man-for-themselves concept that came along with competition; it highlighted certain qualities in the characters that made them stand out from the other participants. Heather, for example, was a character that really grew on me. Her laid-back nature, and willingness to go above and beyond to achieve the lifestyle she'd promised her little sister they would have in spite of their fractured family, really warmed my heart. Another aspect of Panic that I loved, was the male protagonist, Dodge. Oliver does an amazing job crafting his strong personality: through his journey for revenge, to growing closer to Heather and her friends, and accepting the fact that the reason he started the competition wasn't the same reason he finished it.
First and foremost, was the ending. The weird everything-worked-out-when-it-really-shouldn't-have ending. Now, don't get me wrong — I love a happy ending, but when I have to flip back several pages and make sure I didn't miss a whole chapter between what I assumed was supposed to be the climax of the novel, and the seemingly well-crafted epilogue, then there's a problem. A very big problem. I even went as far, as making sure that it wasn't a series. WHY? Because something was missing. The ending was not sufficient, frankly it was disappointing and somewhat unrealistic.
And then there was the foreshadowing. It occurred around the third-to-last chapter and it irritated me to no end. I was able to predict the ending before it happened, as there weren't many other outcomes that would've resulted from the dilemma that Heather and Dodge had found themselves in. It wasn't the foreshadowing so much that irked me, it was the predictability of it all. I found that I had to trudge through the last three chapters, almost waiting and expecting for everything to fall into place. Like the perfect happy ending, that didn't actually make me "happy".
Something about Panic just didn't do it for me. I think it was the very fact that I went into the novel expecting it to be of equal of better quality than Oliver's Delirium series. I've mentioned in previous posts about Lauren Oliver, that I would read any novel she wrote as long as her name was titled on it. After reading Panic, however, I'm not so sure about that.
Nobody believed that Panic would stop, of course.The game must go on.The game always went on.
—Panic by Lauren Oliver