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.
I have to admit I was leery of reading another Lauren Oliver book because of how disappointing the Delirium series turned out to be. But I loved Before I Fall, so I decided to give this one a chance. And it was okay.
I don’t know if my hesitance carried over and made me not love the book, but I didn’t hate the book either. It was a fast paced book, and it kept me intrigued. The writing was beautiful though, it’s the book’s biggest selling point.
I know people say that all characters aren’t written to be liked and that not liking a character isn’t a reason to give the book a not so good review. But here is my logic, I don’t like being around people in real like that I don’t like, so why would I want to read about characters that I don’t like?
That was my biggest issue with the book, that I really didn’t like any of the characters. Some of the minor characters were fine, like Dodge’s sister and Heather’s sister and her boss. But the main characters, Heather, Dodge, Nat, and Bishop, nope.
Heather only joins Panic because her boyfriend dumped her. She actually had no plans for after high school besides being with her boyfriend. She comes from a broken home, she lives in a trailer park, and her mom is a drunk/druggie. She sees herself as worthless especially without a boyfriend. She’s been in love with her best friend Bishop since they were freshman. They dated way back when but he suddenly broke it off with no explanation as to why though it’s blatantly obvious that he loves her back. At one point Bishop tells her “But all you see is crap. So you don’t have to believe in anything. So you’ll have an excuse to fail.” And that pretty much describes her character through 90% of the book. She does grow and develop a little during the book, playing Panic becomes more of a need after her idiot mother kicks her little sister out into the rain so she can do coke in the house. Lovely. She becomes more self-assured and eventually has a “what was I thinking” moment when she sees her ex. But still, most of the book is her whining about how no one loves her.
Dodge’s secret isn’t really a secret. I assumed his secret meant he had some inside dirt on how the game is played/judged. But no, his “secret” is that he isn’t playing for the money ($67,000) but playing for revenge for what a player did to his sister a few years before. He comes from a broken home too and has been an outcast since he first moved to Carp. He’s also always had a crush on Heather’s best friend Nat. The two sides of his character don’t mesh. One side is a love sick teenage boy that gets tongued talking to Nat and the other side is a boy that’s fully prepared to kill someone to get revenge for his sister.
Natalie is…ugh. She clearly has some OCD, she has to feel “even” and she washes her hands until they are raw. But she’s a terrible person and not that smart. She uses Dodge and lies to him. She’s a mean drunk. She’s selfish. I can’t begin to understand why she would want to join Panic because it’s stated several times in the books that she is afraid of everything. Also, she doesn’t like dogs (or any animal really). (And yes that’s a thing for me, as silly as it may seem. I know there are lots of people in the world that don’t like animals for various reasons, but let me tell you, I’m not friends with any. I have 5 pets, so I literally can’t be friends with people that don’t like animals. Lol)
Bishop, I figured out his secret way early on in the book and kind of waited for others to figure it out.
Another thing that kept me from liking the book was the game itself. People have died during this game. People have been paralyzed. This game has ruined people’s lives and yet it’s still played. I’ve lived in a small town, I know how important tradition is, but this is ridiculous. An innocent bystander dies during this game and the pretty much nothing is done about it. The challenges are things like run across six lanes of traffic on a highway while blindfolded and Russian roulette. Yea, no. Definitely not doing that for $67,000. It’s basically a game of typical reckless teenage idiocy that could end your life.
Oh and tigers. I’m not going to say anything beyond that but the tigers was definitely a “suspend your belief” thing.
So was this a bad book? No! I just wasn’t particularly impressed. I didn’t even hate the characters, they were imperfect which was refreshing but I didn’t like them on a personal level. Does that make sense?
Anywho, I say if you like Oliver’s other novels, give this one a chance.