Thursday, February 20, 2014

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Panic by Lauren OliverPanic by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on March 4th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

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. Sheโ€™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, heโ€™s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that heโ€™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 themโ€”and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

I’m left feeling torn on this one. On the one hand I though it was an exciting and well written story about desperation, friendship, and wanting to prove yourself. On the other hand, the game Panic’s frail, yet apparently enduring, nature was not very realistic considering the risks, keeping me emotionally detached, and I did find the plot ended up being fairly predictable.

Panic is a game where facing often life-risking fears can win you a small fortune – 50,000$ worth. Absolutely interesting and full of adrenaline, but you do have to suspend disbelief in some areas. Mostly by how poorly managed it seems. For a game that wins you over 50k and involves you playing Russian roulette among other things, who are these people trusting? Kids do stupid things for less all the time, but these stakes are extreme and we know that Heather, for one, is doing it for the money – for her sister. Don’t they wonder what’s stopping this secret leader no one knows about from running off with the 67k? Then at one point, two of the players decide to take the game into their own hands and put some of the players through solo challenges, eliminating them, and it was apparently okay. It was all very unfair and disorderly. Plus, especially for a small town that normally has involved communities, I find it hard to believe that parents and cops would be oblivious to the game’s existence and not press to get this stopped. I mean, kids are dying, getting paralyzed, burnt, drowned, not to mention the harm they’re putting others in by crossing the road blindfolded in front of unsuspecting families and such. It’s not as if they were so good at being secretive either – scrawling their meeting times on a water tower is not exactly inconspicuous. There are a lot of gray areas you have to overlook.

The writing was wonderful, as I expected. I was a big fan of Before I Fall for the depth and meaning of the story, and I saw this here as well. The desperation is obvious; the need for Heather to be a part of something big, reckless. To stand out for once. To take control. The pressure, anxiety, and adrenaline rush from each dare is also unmistakable. I found myself holding my breath more than once. She’s a strong willed person that I liked to root for. I also sympathized with her family situation that drove her to keep going. Desperation is a strong force and this is well displayed here in both narratives. Dodge is our other main character who’s a bit of a loner and in the game for revenge. He harbors a lot of anger, turning him into this intense character. I did find he could be inconsistent at times, making it difficult to fully grasp his personality, but he was quite interesting! Although I have no clue what he saw in Nat or why he was even attracted to her, aside from her appearance. She was not very nice to him, useless and a drag in this game, even double-crossing her best friend. She did get better towards the end, thankfully. Bishop did not get enough face time for me to feel like I really knew him. I did appreciate the romance blooming from his and Heather’s long-time friendship, though, but what changed her mind from “it would be like kissing my brother” to being in love with him remains unclear.

My review may list the less than positive aspects from this book, but I did enjoy it overall. Above all, I liked the psychological aspects surrounding this game, as well as the depth and dramatic intensity of both the characters and plot. I liked that it looked into fear as being something you can, and sometimes have to, conquer. I was hoping for a more tragic ending, though, but I was overall satisfied by the reality TV-esque fun rush that I got from this novel.


3 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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32 Responses to “Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver”

  1. Megan

    Hmm, I’m still on the fence about reading this one after your review. While this one sounds interesting, I’m not sure about the believability issues.

  2. Tina

    Hmmmm Well, usually I don’t like books that aren’t realistic, but obviously with some situations I have to let that go because the entire premise in general is unrealistic haha I just kind of change my expectations or something, I don’t know. I liked Before I Fall but no where near as much as everyone else in the world did. I loved the Delirium series (mostly the 2rd and 3rd book though) so I’ll give it a shot anyway. Great review!

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Ugh. I’m going to be reading this soon and I can’t say I’m looking forward to it after reading your review. “Although I have no clue what he saw in Nat or why he was even attracted to her, aside from her appearance. She was not very nice to him,” This is happening to me with my current read as well. The main character is a complete bitch to the love interest and he’s in love with her. -_-
    I think I will lower my expectations when reading this one.
    Great review, Giselle.

  4. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I’m mixed on if I want to read this one or not. The reviews I’ve seen have been more negative than good. I wish the game had been better explained and the romantic aspect, if going to be in the book, better executed. Great review Giselle

  5. Jen @ YA Romantics

    Ah — so torn on this one. I love Lauren Oliver’s writing but the premise of this just didn’t grab me. I didn’t request it, but I may give it a try if I have a chance.
    And LOL — I’ve read a lot of books recently where I have no idea what the two characters in love see in each other.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  6. Alice

    Sigh. The 3 star reviews. Always the most difficult to get your points across (though you did fabulously of course m’dear!).

    I’ve always loved Lauren Oliver’s writing and I’m glad that continues to shine through in her next book. I’m glad that this book is able to highlight the drama and leave you holding your breath at some of the scenes.

    I think I probably will end up picking this one up, because I’ve always enjoyed the books she’s written, but I’m going in with fairly lowish expectations since the story is predictable and unrealistic (thanks for the heads up on that!). But to me, the writing shall be worth it.

    Brilliant review as always Giselle! ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book more than I did ๐Ÿ™‚ I think her writing-style just isn’t for me.. I couldn’t believe how obvlious all the grown-ups were or the fact that NO teenager would tell them. It wasn’t very realistic to me, but I’m happy you found enough aspects that make you enjoy it ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Soma Rostam

    Well, Giselle, this looks like a really weird book. I am conflicted about this one . I don’t know if I want to read it or not
    I missed reading your reviews
    Your reader,

  9. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    I’ve only read Before I Fall (loved) and Delirium (really liked but found borning sometimes) but I’m torn on wanting to read this one. Especially after reading the reviews. I don’t think this one would keep my attention. I do love the cover though ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Candace

    The other review I read for this was along the same lines. It was a decent read but didn’t have any WOW factor. Too bad. I love Lauren Oliver. I’m sure I’ll read it eventually, but I might hold off for now.

  11. Christianna

    Oh man, it sounds like the parts of this book that didn’t quite click would drive me nuts. On the other hand it sounds like it was a great character piece. I hate when everything doesn’t line up well in a plot and messes with a really cool story, which it kinda sounds like that’s what happened here. Great review!

  12. Siiri

    Sorry for the predictability. Hmm, okay. These questions you have about the game make a lot of sense. It’s good to question things, though I don’t think it’s you who’s supposed to do that. The characters are. Yeah, I hear that Oliver’s writing is very lyrical and gorgeous. I love me some friends-to-lovers, so perhaps I’d be more invested in Bishop and Heather’s relationship as well. Great review, Giselle!

  13. Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    Yeah…I haven’t read this one yet, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from in terms of the 3-star rating. It’s great that Oliver is able to yet again write another book with her amazing eloquent writing style, and that the characters were pretty solid as well. But the world-building definitely sounds a tad shaky, and the predictability is definitely a shame as well.

    I think I’m going to read this one, but I’m going to lower my hopes just a tad because the things that bothered you definitely seem like they have the potential to bother me as well. As always, brilliant review Giselle!

  14. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    I’m a huge fan of Lauren Oliver’s books, but it feels like this one isn’t as great. I remember reading another review talking about how unrealistic the idea of the game was. I agree, it’s definitely a little odd if they’re being so obvious about the game. I mean, if so many people are dying, the police would definitely do something about it. However, the psychological aspect of the book sounds interesting. Even though Dodge’s intense personality was kind of hard to understand, I’m glad that Lauren got the desperation of the characters down. Fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  15. Jackie

    Hi, I’m a new follower! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great review! I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this book, and I must say… I’m disappointed with what I’ve read so far. I loved Oliver’s previous books, and I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to read Panic.

  16. Kat (AussieZombie)

    I fence-sat through this one too, although I found the characters so hard to connect to.

    And yes, you definitely had to suspend belief in some parts, and that’s probably what put me most on the fence.

  17. Lauren

    It sounds like I’m going to be outraged at the unfairness of the game, and the haphazard way it plays out, but I’m excited about the psychological drama, and glad to hear the writing impressed you. I’ve been looking forward to this, and while it does seem different from what I was expecting, I’m still excited to get to it. Lovely balanced review!

  18. Ebony

    I’ve heard quite a few mixed reviews on this one, so I can’t wait to read this one to see which side of the fence I’m one…great review!

  19. kimbacaffeinate

    I have this for review and tabled it, this wasn’t what I was expecting. I am not at all sure I would enjoy this. Lovely review Giselle I appreciated how you broke things down.

  20. Melliane

    the idea is interesting I confess, but you’re right it’s weird that nobody did a thing about it. I saw the cover a lot but didn’t see it was Lauren Oliver. One day, I’ll really have to try this author, her writing style sounds awesome!

  21. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Great review Giselle, I think some things were brushed over in this novel about the money and why these kids wouldn’t run off with it – that is a lot of money if teenagers are putting their life in line for it! I didn’t quite enjoy this novel because of the stupid decisions and life threatening moments the teens put themselves through. Glad you managed to enjoy it, though.

  22. Pili

    I have my doubts with this one… on the one side it sounds interesting enough and I’m sure the writing would be pretty good, cause Lauren Oliver can be accused of other things, but not of bad writing. But on the other… the Delirium trilogy didn’t leave me the best aftertaste…
    Thanks for the review, Giselle!

  23. Faye @ The Social Potato

    That’s what I noticed about this book too, regarding the writing: the urgency of the situation, the desperation of the characters were truly apparent and shown well. I wasn’t really a fan of the overall plot, but the atmosphere of the truly really made a difference. For some reason it felt like reading the manga Battle Royale or some Japanese movie where teenagers rely on themselves to get out of a life-or-death situation lol.

    Dodge was definitely the most complex of the four. He was so inconsistent and unstable, but I think he was made to be that way, and I kind of appreciated that because it only meant there were more to his story than what meets the eye!

    Great review, Giselle!

  24. Kristilyn (Reading in Winter)

    I love Lauren Oliver’s writing and really look forward to this one, though that’s too bad you didn’t get the ending you would’ve liked. I just read Something Real which was a reality TV kind of book and liked it — they must be the new thing! I still love the cover for this book … very eye-catching!

  25. jayd @ books, food and other things

    I had mixed feelings about this book as well. I agree that some points of the plot were fairly fragile and hard to believe. I didn’t even particularly like any of the characters, especially Dodge. ๐Ÿ™
    But, somehow I still managed to read on, and I’m glad I did. I liked the ending.
    Really enjoyed your review!