Panic was a gripping read. It combines elements of thriller and action genres and didn’t rely on romance to drive the plot as so many teen novels tend to. The characters and action are gritty and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. Or eyes glued to the page. Or both. The only other Lauren Oliver novels I’ve read have been of more of a dystopian variety so this one was an interesting and enjoyable contrast.
The premise of the plot is that there is this legendary game called Panic played by seniors in a small town in the middle of nowhere. It’s dangerous, it’s illegal, and it’s high stakes. The money would be like winning lotto. As the game continues the stakes get higher and higher and the tension continues to build.
The two main characters are Heather and Dodge. The narrative is third person and gives both of their perspectives. Both of them have motives to compete, although Heather hadn’t originally planned to, and both of their motives relate to their families. Heather wants to get out of small town Carp with her sister and escape their trailer-park life. Dodge wants revenge against a fellow competitor for what was done to his sister. There’s also Heather’s best friend Natalie who wants to get famous and sees the prize as her ticket.
The novel explores issues of guilt and lies, courage and fear; and poverty and the cost of winning. It’s an excellent read and I really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t completely blown away. If you enjoy action and drama and you’re not too fussed on the plot being mind bending then you’ll probably love this. My rating it 3.5/5