I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Panic by Lauren Oliver
Published by Harper Collins on March 4, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
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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.
Panic. It’s a game played every summer by graduating seniors in a small, very poor, middle-of-nowhere town in upstate New York. All of the seniors are forced to pay in, and anyone who dares can enter the game. This year, the pot is the biggest ever – $67,000. Enough to change someone’s life – get them out of this dead-end town, or at least make them a legend if they choose to stay. As someone who couldn’t wait to graduate and get out of my own small town, I completely understand how appealing this game would be! The game starts with a cliff dive, and the challenges, based on overcoming your fears, escalate from there. Over the seven years the game has existed, there have been three casualties, and this year it seems that the challenges are more dangerous than ever, and the game quickly gets out of hand.
Panic by Lauren Oliver takes place over the course of one summer, and alternates between the point of view of Heather and Dodge, who are playing for very different reasons. Heather never had any intentions of playing Panic. She came to the opening jump to support her best friend Nat (who I didn’t like at all), but when her boyfriend arrives with another girl and dumps her, she is completely devastated and ends up joining the game. She soon realizes that she is braver than she ever imagined, and the stakes are much higher than just proving something to her ex. Winning the game would mean being able to provide for her 11-year-old sister, and getting both of them away from their mother and step-father, who are too busy drinking and doing drugs to take care of their children.
Dodge has always planned on playing, and he has one thing on his mind: revenge for something that happened in a previous game. He guards his secrets closely, and there is more to him than meets the eye. Dodge, Heather, and Nat form an alliance, but it’s clear that there can only be one winner left standing at the end of Panic. With everyone so determined to win and change not only their lives, but the lives of the people they love the most, things get intense very quickly.
I liked the themes that ran through this book – learning what is truly worth fighting for, and learning when to let go. It’s a story of finding yourself, and finding out what it really means to have courage. I was rooting for Heather from the beginning, and I really liked her growth throughout the story. She and Dodge both felt very real and very relatable. I was already a fan of Lauren Oliver’s other books, and this one was no exception. I couldn’t put it down – it was suspenseful and unpredictable, and a very enjoyable read!