27/03/2014

Review: Panic {Lauren Oliver}



 

Panic began as many things did in Carp, because it was summer and there was nothing else to do. It's a game that tests your limits, pushes you over the edge and, every now and again, ruins someone's life. Well, if you survive, that is

With the pay-off higher than the stakes, it's a game that demands to be played. Heather never thought she would compete in Panic. She never thought of herself as fearless. But now she has something, someone, to fight for, and she has to learn to be brave.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret fuels him and his thirst for revenge overcomes any chance of getting lost in the fear.Now Heather and Dodge must compete in the deadly game, to see who takes the victory, and who will be the first to Panic.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21 

Panic has the action of dystopia, without the end-of-the-world setting. Lauren Oliver is very clever at taking the best parts of dystopia and blending it with a contemporary setting, allowing her to create a story that epitomises the best of both worlds.

Panic is about teenagers undertaking dangerous tasks and stunts, risking life and limb for a cash prize. They start house fires, jump off of insanely high ledges, play chicken, take a chance at Russian Roulette and engage in generally crazy behaviour that made me question their sanity. I don't care how much money was on offer, there's no way I'd stick a gun to my temple over it.

Still, this book kept me guessing and kept my jaw dropping. It's not a YA romance, it's a contemporary thriller. And, in a world where the term 'YA contemporary' is always uttered in the same breath as 'romance', Panic stands apart from the crowd.

Yes, there were romantic aspects – always in the background, helping pump the story along – but they took a backseat to the game. This isn't a book about all-consuming love, it's a book about family and bravery and risking everything.

Both Heather and Dodge join Panic for different reasons. Heather suffered a pretty rotten break-up right just needed to do something extreme. Something spur of the moment to throw herself in to. Thankfully, she soon realises how bat-shit Panic really is and decides to quit. 

Unfortunately, with things at home taking a turn for the worse, she has no choice but to stay in the game. I could really respect how she realised it was a stupid mistake and tried to get out, but in the end was forced to go through with it to help her family. It made her one of the smarter participants; the rest only viewing Panic as a play for some quick glory.

Dodge, on the other hand, is playing for revenge. He's twisted over what happened to his sister and needs to make someone pay. And that someone happens to be taking part in Panic, so naturally Dodge joins up.

Just as with Heather, I could see the reasoning behind Dodge's actions, and that meant I could get behind him as a character (even if I didn't agree with him). There was no way I could have seen this book through until the end, if it was just about a couple of kids deciding to risk their lives for kicks. The fact that Dodge and Heather had real, life-changing reasons for participating made them easy to sympathise with and even easier to root for.

Panic is told from both Dodge and Heather's perspective and Oliver did a great job of handling the dual narrative, while maintaining the omniscient voice of the third person narrator. It gave us intense and emotional insight into both Dodge and Heather's lives, while maintaining a sense of wisdom.

The only real problem I had with Panic, was that the ending was rushed. There was all this build-up and tension and Lauren Oliver laid the groundwork for an insane final showdown, but then it all seemed to be over in the blink of an eye. The ending I had hoped for was there, but it was passed by so quickly I could barely process it. And the final few chapters just felt a bit too Happily Ever After for me.

Panic was an amazing novel that gripped me from the start. I was enthralled throughout and never felt like any of the characters were truly safe. The ending was a little anti-climatic after such a big build-up, but the first 90% of the book was so strong that I didn't find myself too put out.

"It was so strange, the way that life moved forward. The twists and the dead ends, the sudden opportunities. She supposed, if you could predict or foresee everything that was going to happen, you'd lose the motivation to go through it all. The promise was always in the possibility."


Thank you to the folks at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart.
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33 comments:

  1. I'm glad you liked this one Allie and that it worked for you. Unfortunetly while the things you found to be a bonus were the things I didn't think worked. I ended up DNF-ing this book and just couldn't believe in the game 'panic' itself because it's run by kids. I couldn't fathom that it had existed for so long yet NO ONE had shut it down yet. Especially the cops. It seemed so unrealistic. The vandalism they do if people don't donate money everyday of the school year? Yeah that seemed TOTALLY unrealistic because how can someone NOT get caught for harassing someone to pay? Unfortunetly this one just didn't work for me but I'm glad it was a good read for you!'
    Lily

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    1. I thought the exact same thing about them trying to get money out of everyone! How would kids afford that everyday? How is it possible not ONE kid told their parents? Completely unfeasible.

      Buuuuut I just loved everything else. And I think it kind of made sense to include that bit because it just showed how intense the game was and how petrified everyone was of the people involved. It amped up the tension!

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  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this one since I'd only seen like one really positive review so far and it's good to see a different side of things. I'm happy that you managed to find reasoning behind the MCs' decisions on joining Panic and that you felt an emotional connection :) I totally get the too HEA thing. I like a HEA, but sometimes less is more. Great review, Allie!

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    1. It was just wrapped up a little too nicely for me. I kind of wanted something more dramatic and bitter-sweet, you know? Seriously though, the rest of the book was so good!

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  3. That's great you liked this one. I'm definitely curious. I've never read anything by Oliver so I do want too. I like that the romance isn't a big part of the story. It doesn't seem like it would fit.

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    1. Oh really? I would definitely recommend Delirium, as it is awesome . . . but the two follow-up books were so disappointing :(

      Before I Fall is a great one by Oliver though!

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  4. You're definitely right in that Panic takes thrilling dystopian elements and puts them in a contemporary setting. I'm glad! I agree with you that contemporary seems synonymous with romance (which in turn is synonymous with silly little girly fiction...sigh...) nowadays, so I think it was a nice change to see a contemporary where the romance isn't the focus. I also think the ending was a let down! The final challenge was so deflated after all the build up!

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    1. Ahh yes, romance seems to always be pushed into a 'chick-lit' label, or looked down upon in some way :/ it's so ridiculous.

      If that ending had been more bitter-sweet and less candy-cane sweet I think the book would have been perfect! As it is, it was just kind of . . . eh. And that bit with the stroking tiger at the end? LOL. What was that about?!

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  5. I agree that the ending felt rushed, which was a real shame as the build up was so good! I think you have to really suspend your disbelief with this book too, that the game would have continued for so long without being shut down.

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    1. Oh definitely. In a way you can't take this book too seriously and start nitpicking, because at the end of the day it is kind of a fantasy. No, this sort of thing probably wouldn't happen in real life and it wouldn't have gone on for so long without getting shut down; but I sort of think that's the point. This book isn't supposed to be realistic, it's supposed to be a thrill-ride and I think it succeeds at that.

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  6. I'm so glad you liked this! I've heard a few negative reviews that had put me off before I saw this :) and I didn't like Before I Fall, so I was already kind of wary of this one. But it sounds really DIFFERENT, and I love different, so I might give it a go :)

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    1. Yeah, it seems to be dividing quite a few people! I think that's mostly because people are comparing it to Delirium and not taking it for what it is; a fun, intense stand-alone contemporary. Plus, I think people felt really let down by Requiem and just wanted Oliver to write something mind-blowing . . . so in a way I think some people were setting themselves up to be disappointed.

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  7. I just started this one, so glad you liked it!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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  8. I'm reading this next, so I'm thrilled to hear you enjoyed it so much Allie! I too am captivated by the dystopian-but-not-really-dystopian ;) society, it sounds enthralling. Lauren Oliver always has such a poetic prose, and I always find myself enjoying her books, even if they don't quite always make it up to that 5-star mark.

    And, it's a shame about the ending, but I'm glad that the rest of the story was so strong that you found it easy to overlook!

    Thanks for sharing Allie, and, as always, fabulous review! :D

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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    1. It's such an interesting mix of the genres, isn't it? I'm actually reading a book right now that doesn't something similar; it's called Uninvited. It's only set about ten years in the future and life is basically exactly the same as it is now, but the government have done some testing and found out there's a gene responsible for homicidal tendencies, so people with this gene are suddenly outcast. It's like dystopia is starting to creep into our own society, rather than being set years into the future after some big war! I'm loving this new 'sub-genre' of sorts!

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    2. Oohh! I read Uninvited a little while ago, and, despite a few minor things, I absolutely LOVED it (being fascinated by genetics definitely made it a LOT more fun too)! Can't wait to see what you think Ally! :D

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  9. Mmm...I'm glad you liked it! It wasn't for me, but I did enjoy Heather and her sister's relationship. And I thought it was pretty unique how the two narrators didn't fall in love. It stopped things from being repetitious! I felt so sad for the tigers....buuut, the whole put-a-gun-to-your-head-for-some-money? I REALLY struggled with that. I just felt that blowing your head off when you had family who depended on you and...it just didn't work for me. I was really disappointed with Bishop, too. How COULD he. ;) :)

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    1. I totally thought that was going to be the story; Dodge and Heather having a romance etc. and the game kind of just being in the background. I was so happy when not only did the game take the front seat, but also when Dodge and Heather turned out to not be romantically interested in each other. It was good Oliver didn't go the typical route!

      The Russian Roulette thing was RIDICULOUS and my least favourite part of the novel. I mean, really . . . she's competing for her sister, but then basically risks committing suicide and leaving her sister all alone? IT MAKES NO SENSE. Just goes to show how desperate she was though!

      I loved the Bishop twist!!! I was starting to think his character was getting a bit bland and then BAM, curveball!

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  10. Wow, I'm glad you enjoyed it because it definitely wasn't for me. I actually didn't pick up Heather wanting to leave the game, it wasn't significant enough. I thought the whole idea was silly and yes, the russian Roulette was really stupid. So frustrating.

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    1. I'm surprised at how much this book is dividing bloggers lol. Some people love it and then there's a bunch DNF'ing! I definitely get why it isn't for you though, there are a lot of discrepancies. Still though, I just found it really entertaining all the way through :D

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  11. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it! This book ended up just kind of middle ground for me. I loved the concept and the fact that the two main characters don't just fall in love, but there was also a bunch of stuff that just kind of frustrated me. Love the quote you picks, great review!

    Cyn @ Bookmunchies

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    1. Yeah, a lot of people seem to be quite frustrated by this; I think they're finding the premise unrealistic. But then, it IS fiction, so I'm willing to overlook a few things if the story is entertaining enough and Panic definitely entertained

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  12. I was fully into the book as well and did like the contemporary that had the hard core dystopia and competition high stake.

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    1. It's such a great way to mix it up, since dystopia is getting a little tired now!

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  13. Glad to see a positive review for this! I'm always hoping that she'll write another book like Before I Fall. It doesn't sound like this has any paranormal elements, but maybe I'll give it a try!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. It is similar in that it's a standalone contemporary, but with a unique twist. I think she does best at that; unfortunately I just don't think she can carry through a series. Standalones seem to be her strongest

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  14. Ooh, love to hear that this one is a contemporary with a twist. It sometimes becomes kinda boring when contemporary equals romance, but Panic seems to have a lot more that that!

    Thans for sharing, great review!

    Totally agree with you Tirta! I love love love this movie too! And OMFG asdfghjkl Theo James O.O
    And yep, gotta admit that Shai kinda lacked of expression here. But Jai Courtney as Eric is just, wow. You want to slap him, I kinda want to mutilated him :D

    Anyway, thanks for sharing! Great review!

    Neysa @ Papier Revue

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    1. Definitely! I love a bit of romance, don't get me wrong. But it's nice to read a story where the romance isn't the focus!

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  15. I've read many Lauren Oliver's books and liked them, so I might give this one a try. Glad you enjoyed it! :D

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    1. If you're a fan, this is definitely worth a shot! I think it really made up for the disaster that was Requiem lol

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  16. I can't wait to read this! I love that it's a thrilling action book without the fate of the world in the balance. This will be my first time reading Lauren Oliver so after this I'll have to check out Delirium.

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    1. Oh Delirium was so amazing! I'm sure you'd love that!!! The sequels were so disappointing though :( it killed me because the first book was so strong

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