Published by HarperCollins Australia on March 4, 2014
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, 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 is every parent’s worse nightmare. Teenagers risking their lives for a dangerous game, resulting in danger, death and destruction. From jumping off a high ridge, to starting house fires, blowing up cars, to a pot luck with a loaded gun, the stupidity prevails until the very last pages of the book.
And for what? A $67,000 jackpot which apparently the Seniors at high school have scraped together with their measly allowances. Definitely significant, but not worth risking your life over, especially if all it’s being spent on is “a used Honda”.
The setting for the book is a small town with a bunch of bored teenagers, who participate in this game every year. Even after multiple deaths, they still continue to play, and the cops for one reason or another, can’t get behind it. Two judges are chosen as the ‘game masters’ to run the course, and send Pretty Little Liar type texts to the contestants.
I’ve enjoyed Olivers’ Delirium series, and her writing is markedly better here. But unfortunately, the story or characters are not. The characters were bland, rough around the edges and just plain pigheaded. Being narrated in third person, switching perspective between the two main characters also led it to being difficult to connect with each character.
First you’ve got Dodge, the outcast who lives in the slums. Full of revenge and justice, Dodge is in the game to fix his sister’s broken legs and to wreak havoc on the guy who caused the accident. He does make some honourable actions, but many of his thoughts were juvenile.
It seemed surprising that Nat Velez, with her thick, perfect hair and slicked lip-gloss lips, would speak so frankly about a subject most people avoided. It was like hearing a supermodel fart: surprising and kind of thrilling.
Heather on the other hand, has a drunken, drug-addicted parent who neglects her 12 year old sister, Lily. She wants the jackpot to carve out a better life for herself and her sister, and even takes to becoming homeless for a period just to get away from her mother. Instead of relying on her best friends, Natalie and Bishop for support, she chooses to tough it out herself by lying to the cops, living on the streets and leaving her sister who knows where while she’s working. I can see how she’s a Joan of Arc type character but Heather’s sheer stubbornness and obsession with Matt and then Bishop was also a pain.
How these two characters scraped up enough money to pay $1 a day to participate in the Game is anyone’s guess.
I thought the relationships weren’t very exciting; definitely no shipping here, but at least they were realistic in some way where the characters didn’t immediately fall in love with each other and live a happily every after. There’s a best friend romance between Heather and Bishop which dragged on unnecessarily throughout the book, and Dodge who for anyone’s guess, likes the self-obsessed, pretentious Natalie.
I was interested in seeing where the book was going, until 75% in when this happened:
- Heather places a gun in her head because of the game. This was what my father must have felt like, she thought.
- She squeezes the trigger and it’s a blank.
- The crowd erupts in a cheer and pats her on the back, saying “I didn’t think you’d do it. Wow. Holy shit.”
If that isn’t sheer stupidity, I don’t know what is.
Thank you to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for sending me this ARC, in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 2 out of 5
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