Monday, May 19, 2014

PANIC! by Lauren Oliver

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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.
Review: Panic is the caffeinated version of the old childhood game, "I Double Dare You." The story  is told from the perspective of 'reflecting' back on past events. In this book, willing teen participants agree to challenges in hopes of winning a cash pot. In the small town of Carp, Panic is the yearly event that amuses the bored graduating class and their followers.  Place your bets, and pick a favorite!  Lauren Oliver does an adequate job with the plot, but doesn't hit the middle of the target to make this one a winner.  There are too many places that tension, suspense and creative structure could have been achieved, but were scuffed over and the climax suffered as a result. 

The story is fairly predictable, nothing really unexpected happens -- yep, you won't get that awesome, "PLOT TWIST!" surprise.  Some of the details and insight into supporting character lives will leave you wondering by the end why it was included in the first place. Sure, developing characters are supposed to create relatability and conjure sympathy, but if it leads to the question "So What?', then the reader is left wondering why they invested in them at all. Unfortunately, certain parts of the story were over developed and other (more important events) were under developed.  

Panic is a good read, but I wanted more depth.  It just didn't deliver, and instead was a bit too shallow and predictable to be a 2014 YA favorite. 
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*ARC provided by HarperCollins courtesy of Amazon Vine


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