book review :: panic by lauren oliver

04 March 2014

Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 4th 2014
Pages: 416
Book: For Review*
Format: ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Thriller, Romance
Find: amazon || goodreads || the book depository
Summary: 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. -goodreads
I enjoyed the Delirium series. Not so much as the hard-core fans maybe, but it was a fun read, the world-building was amazing, and by the end I had made up my mind to definitely read all the authors other books. So here I am, reviewing this one. Panic for me, created a mix of emotions. It was, as always, exquisitely written, the world-building was nothing less that beautiful, but there was something missing. It felt a little hollow. It was like someone had created a person, perfect in every way - except it didn't have a personality. I never felt connected with the characters, they weren't real enough to me. At times, i was almost able to step into their shoes, but not fully - as if i had shoved my feet into a pair of shoes but my heels were still sticking out.
The book is entitled Panic. That is what the plot is meant to revolve around, and in a way it does, but not enough. There is never any clear explanation of why and how Panic started. Yes, a little, but there should have been so much more for this book to work as a standalone. The book actually goes a lot deeper than just a 'game'. It is about relationships, about desperation, about love and loss. It is about the lengths we go to for revenge and love and anger. It is about the future, and how uncertain it is, how we can never know what will happen - we just have to wait for each day as it comes and deal with what it brings. It is not a take of The Hunger Games, as some people are saying. Why?
a) it is not a dystopian. it is a contemporary, dealing with emotional issues, with the game as a side event that results in all these issues.
b) it is a slow paced standalone.
The slow-pace initially threw me off for a while as I had expected it to be a little more action packed, bringing me to the edge of my seat type action. And gradually, that's how i realized the real themes of the book. Each character has it's own problems and participating, or not participating, in the game, is their outlet for releasing and/or solving their emotional issues. For Heather: she decided to participate on a whim, out of anger and hurt after being rejected by the boy she thought she loved. Dodge knows why he is participating, and always has, revenge. Revenge. He needs it like a person needs oxygen to survive; and Nat? Well, she wants to be big, she wants to be an actress or a model, but to do that you need money, and in a town like hers, let's just say it doesn't exactly grow from trees.
Overall Panic was a very slow-paced book that didn't draw me in until about half way. The characters were distinct, but never really three dimensional in my mind. However, the relationships in the book were well written and intensely real which made the book a little better for me. Something 'big' happens in the book about 3/4 of the way  through but i had already guessed which was a bit disappointing. The hints weren't very subtle so either the author wanted the reader to 'almost' guess..or...the hints were not written very well! My rating:  1/2
*thank you to Guardian Children's Books for sending this to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I was kinda like you after the Delirium series I wanted to read Panic (still do, obviously). I thought it was Dystopia though, but still want to read it, although not sure how being a contemporary is going to work out for me personally. Anyways, great review, not sure what to think about the book now. Fi xx

  2. That's so disappointing! I've heard so much about it and have been dying to read it! Oh well...never mind. Shame you didn't like it that much, maybe I'll enjoy it a little more. I also expected it to be a fast paced action dystopian, I guess that's the cover and the marketing of the book to blame for that. Weird.
    Great review Hawwa! :))

  3. I thought this looks quite good. I like that it's not a dystopian but has dystopian elements to it. Unfortunate that you didn't liek it as much as you thought you would. :(

    I might read it, but I probably won't because TOO MUCH BOOKS. ;P

    Hopefully Lauren Oliver will come up with something better next time?

    At least one great thing came out of reading this: YOUR REVIEW! :)


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