Panic by Lauren Oliver (proof) - An utterly gripping thriller from bestselling author Lauren Oliver.
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand 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. From Goodreads
I am such a huge fan of Lauren Oliver, there was no way I wasn't going to read Panic. Having now read it, I can say I loved it! But as much as I enjoyed Panic, there was something missing.
In the town of Carp, each Summer, graduated Seniors take part in Panic, a dangerous game of risk and daring. The aim? To make to the very end and win the prize fund. The rules? Do not breath a word. The games? You never know until a few days in advance.
Heather lives in a trailer park with her family, and parents who are constantly high. When something happens that turns her life upside down, she decides to take part in Panic on a whim. But as the game goes on, and her reality starts spiralling out of control, she knows she must keep playing. That prize fund is her only way out.
Dodge needs to make it through to the end, and he's got him in it to do it. He's not afraid of the rounds, of the danger to his life. He's going to make it to the end, because he has a reason to fight. Nothing's going to hold him back. No-one's going to get in his way. Anger and hatred will keep him fighting on. But there can only be one winner.
I didn't really know what to expect from this particular novel, but I was looking forward to Oliver's beautiful writing. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it was missing. The beautiful metaphors and imagery I have come accustomed to in an Oliver novel simply weren't there, or so few and far between that they passed me by. Yes, I read Oliver's novels because she is a fantastic storyteller, weaving characters lives together with imaginative plots, and the same can be said for Panic, but I also read for the writing, and I just didn't see it this time. Stick another author's name on the front of the book, I would have said it was absolutely incredible - because it is. But I've just come to expect more from Oliver, and I felt a little disappointed that it wasn't there.
Still, Panic is gripping. The various rounds the contestants have to take part in are absolutely ridiculous. So unbelievably dangerous. The prize fund on it's own, though a huge amount, wasn't enough for me to consider taking part if this was a real thing. I can't imagine anyone wanting to take part without some other driving force behind them, needing that money, for example, rather than just wanting it, or taking part for a laugh. There is real danger involved in Panic. One misstep, the slightest hesitation, or one wrong decision, and your life could be over. Panic is not a joke. It's called Panic for a reason: because it's absolutely terrifying.
The individual stories of Heather and Dodge away from Panic were really interesting. Heather's is sad, but kind of uplifting. She's fighting to get away from the crappy life she has with her parents; to get out, break free, and live, for her little sister's sake as well as her own. She has hope of better things, but she's not looking for anything huge. Just a home where they're both safe, and a way to support them both. Dodge lives in a house behind the diner his mum works at. It's small, and they can't afford much, and his older sister is disabled, paralysed from the waist down, stuck in a wheel chair. He's ashamed of his life, but has so much love for his sister, and would do absolutely anything for her.
You can't read about Heather and Dodge's lives, read how crappy things are for them, and not end up feeling extremely grateful for the cushy, in comparison, lives you live. I have a home with room. I have full control of my body. I have a family who loves me. I have enough money to get by. I live in a safe environment. Heather and Dodge don't have this, or know someone who doesn't. And there are so many people in real life who don't have these simple things, things you take for granted, things you would expect. In that regard, Panic really makes you sit back and think.
Panic is an incredible novel, despite my earlier comments. Thought provoking, gripping, jaw-dropping and dangerously addictive, do you dare to take your chances with Panic? It's a risk well worth taking!
Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for the proof copy.
Published: 6th March 2014
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Lauren Oliver's Website