By: Melanie | February 27, 2014 | (29) Comments

Review: Panic by Lauren OliverPanic by Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 416
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.

Lauren Oliver has been an on and off author for me. I loved both Before I Fall and Delirium, but Pandemonium and Requiem fell flat for me. So before entering this book, I was uncertain of what I’d think and what do expect from her this time around. I think Panic caused a lot of confusion for me. I went in thinking it was a dystopian novel because it’s been shelved ‘dystopian’ around 70 times. But let me confirm to you: This is a contemporary novel. 

The main aspect that threw me off from the get go was the point of view. Panic is narrated by two protagonists and both are in third present. I think it’s pretty unusual to come by in contemporaries. Personally, I don’t handle third person narrations well because I like to have a strong sense of connection with the main character(s). Luckily, it did grow onto me in the duration of the 400 pages, but it made the first quarter difficult to venture by.

Panic is told by Heather and Dodge–though really there felt like four main characters (Heather, Dodge, Natalie and Bishop). Heather and I did not get on the right foot. She’s a mentally weak character and is still reeling from a break-up. Her characterization was well done however she’s not the type of protagonist I like following. Overly emotional, whiny and annoying. I do get it, your boyfriend broke up with you and you don’t know what you’re meant to do with your life now but geez girl, it’s not that horrible. As for Dodge, he was definitely an improvement. I liked his back story and reason for joining the game, Panic. His sister had been part of the game a few years earlier but when it came to the final round, she got terribly injured and now may not even be able to walk. Dodge is here for revenge. His personality was determined and strong, which I liked.

I do believe I should briefly explain how Panic works. Basically when you reach freshman year, everyone needs to start pitching in money and by the end of high school all this money is added up. The total is usually around $50000, and the winner of Panic receives this as prize money. To win, the judges (who are anonymous) set a series of challenges and life-risking events, in each round, one person gets out. Despite a pretty intriguing idea, the plot just did not work. Surely parents, guardians, teachers or even the public would notice what these teens are up to and stop it completely. Furthermore, why the heck would people want to enter this game in the first place. You can die, get fatally injured, get caught by the cops etc. The dangers are endless. $67000 is not worth any of that. I like the idea of revenge to let everyone see what you’re made of but Panic is not a smart way to go by it.

The romance was very disappointing. At first, I was surprised to discover that Heather and Dodge were probably not going to end up with each other. I liked that. I liked how Lauren Oliver was going to not go with the story cliche. However the characters she brought in as the love interests were disagreeable. There was zero chemistry and the characters that were involved weren’t too likable either.

Lauren Oliver’s latest was overall a let down due the flaws in characters, romance and logic. But the author did a great job of showing how a game can get so serious when friendships are tested and betrayals are made. A seriously intense read.

~Thank you HarperTeen for sending me this copy!~

2 Stars
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Melanie

Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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29 Responses to Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

  1. Definitely a let down, so weird how this was shelved as a dystopian! Totally not what I expected, but yeah the concept was weird and I didn’t like the romance or any of the characters.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Giveaway & Book Blitz: Shattered Worlds BoxsetMy Profile

  2. Emily says:

    EEP! Characters like those are definitely a let down 🙁 I was pretty excited to read this one, though a little hesitant because of Requiem’s ending D: I’ve this for review, but I’m not sure if I’ll be picking it up anytime soon!! From your review, I think the concept sounds pretty queer too! :O So strange!
    But lovely, informative review all the same, Mel!! 😀 <33
    Emily recently posted…Me Since You by Laura WiessMy Profile

  3. Jasprit says:

    Melanie I ended up giving the exact same rating you did for this book, at times I did really feel like abandoning it too! I actually couldn’t click with Dodge’s perspective, at points I really felt like skipping over it, but then later I felt the same way about Heather too! Also things appeared way too unrealistic for my liking! Thanks for your honest review, it’s a shame, that we both couldn’t enjoy this!
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. StevensMy Profile

  4. Shai W says:

    Yikes. I loved the Delirium series so this is ready sad to see! I’ll still be trying this but I guess I’ll lowee my expectations. I haven’t heard of Before I Fall before, will add that to me to be read pile. Great review Melanie.

  5. You definitely didn’t sound impressed by this book one bit. It’s a shame, because it seems like a really good concept, but it sounds not very well executed and it’s a shame, I might have considered it, even with the annoying person face thing going on with the cover.
    Great review though Mel 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Who Wore It Better #4 – Unravel MeMy Profile

  6. I decided not to read this book when I saw someone else’s review and she mentioned the same thing as you did, Mel. I’m sorry this didn’t work well for you.
    I don’t like the sound of the 3rd person writing and I don’t like the sound of that romance either.
    What’s up with all these Harper Teen e-ARCs being of poor quality as of lately? Huh.
    Great honest review, Mel!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : Finding Cinderella by Colleen HooverMy Profile

  7. Yes, the Dystopian shelving was very deceiving! That might be one of the reasons I end up disliking it so much, because it wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t care for the romance either.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 236. Cayla Kluver – The Queen’s choice.My Profile

  8. I haven’t heard many (if any) good things about this one! I decided that I shouldn’t read it, and it looks like I made a good decision. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts and feelings on this one, Melanie!

  9. Kelly says:

    You’re far braver that I am, I abandoned this halfway through and couldn’t bring myself to review it. I wish people would stop shelving it as dystopian, would have saved me from picking it and enduring this crap. Fantastic review though, no nonsense. Love it!
    Kelly recently posted…On The Grill: Perry the PricklerMy Profile

  10. Siiri says:

    Haha, I hear that dystopian-contemporary shelf thing a lot. I don’t like 3rd person POVs either 🙁 I hear a lot of complaints about the romance so I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. However, I’m glad that overall you still somewhat enjoyed the novel and didn’t outright hate it. Gorgeous review, Mel!
    Siiri recently posted…Review: Into the Still Blue by Veronica RossiMy Profile

  11. Panic seems to be falling flat for a lot of readers. I was actually excited for this book, but reading a lot of bloggers review this with this same rating had me rethinking my excitement. I don’t like third person POV much. I want to hear the protagonists’ voices in my head. It helps me get into the story. I’ll probably still read this, but not my top priority.
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Fire Country Book Birthday + Guest Post + Giveaway!My Profile

  12. A lot of people have been telling me about how the whole idea of Panic is just ridiculous, and I can definitely see why in this case! Like it’s obvious that the parents would have tried to intervene at this point, so it’s definitely super odd that no one seems to care when teens are repeatedly DYING. Like seriously! Also, sorry to hear that Heather is a mentally weak character, I’d definitely be annoyed with her, although I’m kind of intrigued by Dodge’s motives for joining Panic. Sorry this one wasn’t for you, but fantastic review, Mellybean! <33
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  13. Lauren Oliver’s novels are such hit-or-miss reads for me, but I think this is one I’m better off skipping, to be frank. It doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. Wonderful review, though, Melanie! 🙂
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: House of Sand and Secrets by Cat HellisenMy Profile

  14. Alise says:

    “This is a contemporary novel.” I had to laugh about that! I also though it was a dystopian xD I also have this one for review and now I know to go in with reallllly low expectations because it sounds pretty bad. Especially the POV and characters. *sigh* Ah, well. Great review 🙂
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  15. Yeah..i thought it was dystopian too and ended up setting this one down. I just wasn’t feeling it or connecting. I do want to try her adult novel that will be releasing soon.
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  16. Giselle says:

    3rd person is also hard for me especially in contemporaries. I just find it has to be written especially well for me to connect to a character in that tense. I didn’t love this one either though I think I liked it a bit more than you did. My main issue was with the suspension of disbelief that was needed towards the game itself, like you mentioned, the parents and cops could easily stop this especially in a small town where NOTHING goes unnoticed! I’m from a town like that and yeah, no dice! I also didn’t love the romance all that much but luckily it wasn’t a huge part of the book. I did like the adrenaline from the several dares they had to do the most. Great review, love!
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Nil by Lynne MatsonMy Profile

  17. I didn’t like Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver either, even though a lot of others did – I’ll probably give this one a miss.
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  18. Henrietta says:

    I also found it a little difficult to connect with the characters at the beginning but in the end, I kinda liked the story. Yes, the concept of Panic seemed flawed and the cops were ineffective but I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters days after reading the book. I guess I liked the story more than you did but after reading your review, I could see why you felt this was a let down. Hope you’ll enjoy your next-read more. 🙂

  19. Melliane says:

    I agree it’s a problem for the characters when they’re like that… I haven’t read any Lauren Oliver books yet, one day I should try to see how they are.
    Melliane recently posted…GrimMy Profile

  20. Rashika says:

    I am probably the only person in the universe who still hasn’t read Delirium. I’ve had a copy forever and at first I was waiting for the last book to come out and then when it did, almost everyone was disappointed. I’d read it for Alex though (I’ve heard such good things about him ;))

    *snorts* MEL. SERIOUSLY. boyfriends are supposed to be the center of your universe, if they break up with you, it’s the end of the world. 😛

    I really don’t think I am going to like this MC and the fact that this is a contemporary disguised as a dystopia. -.- Bah humbug.

    I am sorry you didn’t enjoy this one more 🙁

    Lovely review, Mel!! 🙂
    Rashika recently posted…ARC Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. JensenMy Profile

  21. Oliver is a iffy author for me too since I thought Delirium was just okay. I didn’t even read the rest of the series. And now with Panic not working out for you, I just don’t think she is the author for me.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Review: Treasure Your Love by J.C. ReedMy Profile

  22. Yup. I’m with you 100%. So sad. And WHY THE HECK is it being shelved as dystopian?!! That confused my braincells way too much. I had totally skewed ideas going into it and PLUS my brain mixed it up with Uninvited, which is totally dumb of me (but the covers do like kind of similar). So *sigh* nope I did not have a good time with Panic. I felt it showed that ALL teenagers were incredibly dumb. I mean, the gun scene? And the highway scene? Both of those made me so angry. Teens are NOT all stupid. I felt their intelligence was being attacked. (I mean, I’m not a teen anymore, but I’m only JUST not a teen, so I still feel kindred to them!!)
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  23. Sorry this book was a disappoint to you, Melanie! I think it mainly worked for me because I visualized it was a gritty edgy movie lol. I mostly loved the sense of urgency and desperation (to win) that was very apparent in the game. Other aspects, though? Not so much although I was entertained to a certain extent. I liked Dodge the most out of the four (even if he did some questionable things) but only because he seemed more complex. I could live without the other three. HAHAHA!

    Great review, Mel! 🙂
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  24. Aw, man. I didn’t read your whole review, but I read the very last sentence and your two stars are not promising at all. 🙁 And although LIESL & PO is one of my favorite books of all time and I liked DELIRIUM, some of the issues you had with this book seems to be similar to issues I had with DELIRIUM as well. Such a shame.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…The Golden Compass: Discussion + March Book AnnouncementMy Profile

  25. I despise third person! This book was a total letdown for me. I was mostly disappointed in the prose…it’s so not like Lauren Oliver to write a dull book!
    Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently posted…Review: Panic by Lauren OliverMy Profile

  26. Zoe N. says:

    Hmm…the concept definitely sounds intriguing, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from in terms of the logic faults. Surely someone will notice these teens are doing such dangerous activities, right?

    And the writing does sound a bit odd…duel perspectives in third person…in a contemporary? Not typically the norm, I guess, but if it’s one thing Lauren Oliver excels at it’s the actual writing aspect, so I don’t think that will bother me too much.

    And the romance and characterization definitely sound like they could have used a little touching up as well!

    Anyways, I think I’m still going to give this one a try – I’ll just lower my expectations just a tad, and cross my fingers it doesn’t disappoint me too much. Nonetheless, brilliant review Mel and thanks for sharing! 😀
    Zoe N. recently posted…UninvitedMy Profile

  27. Paulina says:

    It’s a shame you didn’t really like the book. I reviewed the book on my blog on Thursday and I enjoyed it quite a lot, more than Before I Fall

  28. Amir says:

    So far the reviews I’ve read of this book is not favorable. I enjoyed Before I Fall and Delirium but found Pandemonium a bit boring so Lauren Oliver’s a hit or miss for me too.

    “Why the heck would people want to enter this game in the first place. You can die, get fatally injured, get caught by the cops etc. The dangers are endless. $67000 is not worth any of that. I like the idea of revenge to let everyone see what you’re made of but Panic is not a smart way to go by it.”

    The main reason why I’m skipping this one is because of this premise. It’s completely stupid that they will risk their life for this measly sum and whoever police is running this town must be the worst in the planet if they can’t even figure out how and what these kids are doing.
    Amir recently posted…Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny ReidMy Profile

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