Sunday, April 10, 2016

Book Review 39. Panic

Book: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 408
Published: April 10th, 2016

Synopsis: 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.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

“She thought all you needed to do - all any of them needed - was to get out. But maybe you carried your demons with you everywhere, the way you carried your shadow.” 

First, I rounded the rating up to 4 stars because I was really feeling good. It's more of a 3.5.

Panic. Panic. How do I feel about Panic? Well, going in I had really low expectations since I had heard terrible review after terrible review. Still, I needed an audiobook for the trip I was going on, and this is what my library had to offer. I think a mix of it being an audiobook and me having such low expectations saved it.

The woman who narrated the audiobook I listened to was really good at her job. She had inflections that were just different enough to distinguish each character, but not so different that it felt like she was making silly voices. She also had a very young-sounding voice, which was good since she was narrating the perspectives of teenagers. (PS, I just Googled it, and the woman's name was Sarah Drew. Nice job Sarah!)

Some of the reviews I read claimed this book sounded/felt a lot like the Hunger Games series, which is one of the least accurate comparisons I've ever been exposed to. The Hunger Games is a story about children being forced to fight like gladiators to the death in a post-apocalyptic society, but Panic is just about some bored kids doing some dangerous challenges where yes, sometimes people die, but that's not the point. The point is that they are modern-day kids who are bored and want to win some money. Just because kids are in a dangerous contest does not mean the book is a Hunger Games ripoff! It's like saying Percy Jackson is the same as Harry Potter because some magic kids do magic stuff.

Readers need realize that there is some suspension of disbelief required to read this book. Yes, the police and parents don't really do much to stop this death game, which is stupid and unbelievable (as a parent, are you going to go let your child out after dark if you know a game where people sometimes DIE is going on? No! My parents' won't let me go out if it's raining too hard!). But once you accept that none of the adults in this town have any common sense, it's okay.

But really, why would anyone even play this game? People DIE in this game. People the players personally know/are related to have DIED or have been CRIPPLED because of this game! I get that you win almost $70,000, but is your LIFE worth the slim chance of winning this game? The challenges weren't just hard, but suicidal!

But other than the unbelievable setup, my main complaint was that Nat, one of the main character's best friends, never gets her comeuppance. The whole story she does things to manipulate her friends, and no one acts like this is in any way a bad thing. Although her plans backfired, no one ever gets mad and no bad karma ever comes her way. I just would have liked some cosmic justice for her constantly taking advantage of her friends, even if she had a good reason to.

Also my other complaint is that Lauren Oliver overused the word "panic." It just bugged me.

As for the challenges, I thought they were all pretty intense, but the last one was a bit over dramatic for me (highlight for spoiler) it was fine except for her putting her hand on the tiger's head. That bit was stupid. As little as I would believe anyone would ever actually do any of these challenges, Oliver did a good job writing the suspense, although the unique solo challenges did not feel anywhere near the same level of difficulty.

Long story short, the book has mixed reviews, and all in all I liked it well enough. It's a YA contemporary book, technically, but school and love are put on the backburner for intense life-or-death challenges. Also, no love triangles! If you think it sounds like your thing, give it a try! (And sorry this review was kind of all over the place)


Some other reviews for "Panic" (may contain spoilers):
Miss Page Turner's City of Books
YA Midnight Reads
Creased Book Spines

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