ARC Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver Review – Concerned parents need not apply

February 26, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

ARC Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver Review – Concerned parents need not applyPanic by Lauren Oliver
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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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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60 responses to “ARC Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver Review – Concerned parents need not apply

  1. I've heard a lot of negative things about this book. I kind of want to read it to understand where everyone is coming from, but at the same time, I honestly don't really want to go near this book. Especially if it sounds as pointless as it does already. I had such high hopes for this one, especially after loving the Delirium series too!
    Gina recently posted…Double Review! Unravel Me and Ignite Me by Tahereh MafiMy Profile

  2. Or how about that little twist with the gun? I mean, really? Were they just purposely trying to off the contestant's now, or just wager that she wouldn't do it? Stupid, stupid, stupid. But, then again, don't really care to be honest, I was just so freaking bored, and it's the type of book you shouldn't be bored reading, high stakes, dangerous dares, high on adrenaline, shouldn't it have been intense, just a little? Even when it came to the trials, nope, I was still bored. Considering this was my first Lauren Oliver book, I am hugely disappointed by it.
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…A Q&A with Lucy SaxonMy Profile

  3. Well that is disappointing…Actually I didn’t like her delirium series…her writing style is so bad I just wanted to rip the book is shreds. I was hoping for more in Panic and it looks like I’ll be passing this. Thanks for the lovely review!

  4. Yikes! I was really looking forward to this one because I'm a HUGE fan of Lauren's writing style, but this one definitely sounds a bit iffy. The whole premise just doesn't sound realistic in my mind, and it's a shame the characters weren't developed to their full potential. Oh well, I think this one will be a miss for me. Thanks for sharing though Jeann!

    (P.S. Sorry I haven't commented in a while! It's tech week for my play, so things have been kind of busy! The show ends tomorrow, so hopefully then I can get back to my regular commenting schedule!)
    Zoe @ The Infinite T recently posted…UninvitedMy Profile

  5. I've only read Delirium and Pandemonium but skipping Requiem because Buona hated it. I saw this before but never really got around checking it out. The premise is interesting but from your review it looks like there's so many loopholes. And 67k is a lot of money but not it exchange for your life. And 12,000 people and still the cops can't figure this yearly occurrence out? Yeah. I'll pass on this one, I think it might be a wallbanger for me :-/

    Great review Jeann!
    Amir recently posted…{Blog Tour} Laila Blake & L.C. Spoering’s After Life Lessons Excerpt + Giveaway!My Profile

  6. Ha, I love your sub-title. It's exactly what this book was.

    It's too bad you didn't enjoy it! I think I ended up giving it 3 stars, but I'm totally with you on the "holy crap, do you guys do stupid things." The Heather/Bishop romance was a bit draggy, though I did appreciate that it wasn't the typical, two main characters end up falling in love. Nat definitely had some OCD going on.

    I'm always sad when Oliver's plot go awry, because I love her writing style and want the books to be so good. Oh well. Great review Jeann!
    Cyn @ Book Munchies recently posted…Blog Tour Review: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet GurtlerMy Profile

  7. Aww sorry that this one wasn't for you! I agree, Lauren Oliver's writing style is absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking, but the fact that this one doesn't really display that much logic definitely turns me off. Also, the characters don't sound any better, and I feel like the ending is almost like a rip-off of The Hunger Games. Ugh fantastic review, though, Jeann! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and recently posted…Nil by Lynne MatsonMy Profile

  8. HAHAHA! I agree. That scene with the gun scene was really shitty, imo. Everything else was fine in my dictionary except that particular one. It just sounded so stupid, and even more that it was actually loaded. Pure bullshit. But aside from that, I did enjoy this one quite a little bit. It helped that I visualized it as a movie haha.

    Hope you find a better read soon! >:D<
    Faye @ The Social Po recently posted…ARC Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. JensenMy Profile

  9. I am so surprised, this book sounded pretty good to me. I really liked Oliver's other books (except the last delirium book) I think she writes really well so I was expected big things from this. I still want to read it for myself though. Great review, thanks for sharing.
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  10. Jeanne, you're far too kind. This for me was the equivalent of stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork, it hurt. I couldn't get any further than half way, you're a tough cookie to have made it right through. I loved her series as well (not so much book three), but this was beyond ridiculous. What a stupid book for a teen audience. There are going to be idiots that will like the sound of recreating Panic. It was all kinds if crap.
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  11. I've only read the first four chapter on Epic Reads, but I thought it sounded pretty good. I definitely did not get that whole every single person has to pay money each day to contribute thing. Like, seriously?! How could they afford that? And you're telling me not one kid told their parents about it? And the teachers didn't know? And they have these intense games going on with loud-ass megaphones and nobody knows about it? Yeah, not that realistic.

    It's a shame so much (particularly the characters) have fallen flat with this 🙁 Seems like another case of a book that could have potential but that was executed badly. Lauren Oliver, why do you do this to us?!
    Allie @ Little Birdi recently posted…Review: In Too Deep {Amanda Grace}My Profile

  12. I know this book was supposed to be thrilling…but frankly? I think it's telling the world that teens are stupid and it's NOT always true. (I mean, I only just stopped being a teen, but I was never that stupid.) The one that got me was walking blind-folded across the highway. Oh…please, no. The more I read, the more frustrated I got. Because HECK, it doesn't matter if you win that money because you're going to be using it on psychological counselling later in life. The whole judges thing didn't really add up either. I felt there were a lot of plot flaws. And I don't get why Dodge liked Natalie either (or why he was originally happy for his sister's friend…and then not happy?? What?) Or the tigers. Really. The only character I liked was Lily.
    Cait @ Notebook Sist recently posted…Top Ten Series I Haven’t Finished YetMy Profile

    • I totally agree with you Cait, I just thought it was so stupid! It doesn't make sense that they could save that much money without running off with it. I didn't like any of the characters.