Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
The CoverI actually kinda like the cover but related to the book it doesn't make sense at all. You'd never have any idea what this book is about by looking at this cover but I do like the stark contrast of the black with the blond hair and the white letters, esthetically it looks fine but they should have put a bit more thought into this.
The StoryPanic is set in a small dead-end town called Carp during summer and it deals with a game called Panic, which is played every year during summer. Graduating seniors that participate participate in several dangerous challenges to win a large sum of money. For a lot of kids, this is their way out of Carp.
This year the two protagonists of the novel, Heather and Dodge are participating and set on winning the game. Heather wants to make a better live for her and her little sister and Dodge wants to win to help his sister as well. Both enter the game for different reasons though, Heather is bored and heartbroken and Doge wants to get revenge and is angry.
As the game evolves, friendships break and grow stronger, alliances are made and broken, people fall in love, revelations are made and drama ensues. Will everybody survive? Will everybody survive? Will it change anything?
My ThoughtsI really like Lauren Oliver's writing so I was excited for this book to come out but my expectations were maybe a bit too high because I ended up liking it less than I thought. It had nothing to do with the writing itself, which as usual was great but it was more the story and the characters. I was especially annoyed by the stupidity of these kids. Yes, all the money they could win is very tempting of course but most of these challenges go way too far and involve the possibility of people dying. I don't think that's a lot of fun anymore. I also felt like while we did get a lot of information and background about the main characters and their friends, mostly due to Oliver's great writing, we didn't really get the know them. Both Heather and Dodge are characters we should get to know better because the story is told in alternating chapters featuring either Heather or Dodge but I kept feeling very distance towards the both of them.
Something that was really well done was the description of the town and the sadness of the lives of the people living there and especially the main characters. This is where Oliver's craft comes to show, she has a way with words and can really suck you in. The same goes for the sad homes these characters come from and also the actual game of Panic. Lauren Oliver is definitely not afraid to show the bleak sides of live in a realistic way. Fitting in with the game the writing is fast-paced which makes for a thrilling read.
All in all, this is a well-written, contemporary young adult novel with a harsh reality. It's not a book you should read to escape to a nice place with awesome people because they all have their flaws and not to forget they put their lives on the line to win a game and money. It is a realistic view of places that exist and people living desperate and what seem like hopeless lives. While the book didn't click with me personally as much as I wanted it to, I do admire that Lauren Oliver decided on this kind of setting and this scary game these kids are playing.