Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Harper Collins
Blurb: 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.
Me: Okay...I started off reading the blurb thinking this is crazy over dramatic and stupid, which isn't the greatest feeling to start a book with. But quite differently from my expectation, it was surprisingly suspenseful and hooking.
The Ups: It got me into it from page 1. I notice some other people say it's a little slow paced, but I have to disagree. The entire book is in such a format that it takes certain days and tells the story, so there are no awkward, boring gaps in between the action. The game sounds unbelievably cheesy, but once the story progressed, I found myself getting more from the game than just a senior tradition, but a last test, a last desperate call for these teens to find their roads.
It was a nail-biter. I think the characters were built around a similar emotion, desperation. And desperation leads to panic, which leads to illogical decisions, which leads to chaos. Nat, Dodge, Bishop, Heather, all wanting to do what was in their small power to achieve something, willing to lose themselves in the process. And Panic, the game, is pretty dumb. Over dramatic. But in Carp, a dead town of almost-dead people, it's the only hope to get out.
I think that the characters, the town, the settings, the challenges, they were all sort of ridiculous and unbelievable now that I stop and think about it, but in the story were incredibly real and believable. Applause to Lauren Oliver for doing that, because there are some bizarre things in here.
One really small thing I just liked a lot was that the romance was not the classic I love him, I love her, let's tell the story from both of our perspectives as if one isn't already enough romance. It was different, a little daring, and very...imperfect.
The Downs: Happy endings are great, okay. And humans are just weird, messed up creatures as to where if they don't get a happy ending, they get pissed. To please those crazy humans and to tell a story like it is is kind of impossible. And so yeah, I get it, I like it when the main character wins too. But the ending of this was way too bright, too cheesy, too perfect compared to all the dark tension happening in the rest of the book. At the end of the day, everything doesn't just magically piece itself together. And Lauren Oliver had had a great, beautiful, completely unpredictable before-ending-scene but then completely ruined it. The last line of the book is literally:
"There was always a way up, and out, and no need to be afraid."
I won't be afraid, then. Even when I could possibly die from shooting myself in the head with a loaded gun. I thought the point of the book was to fight through that desperation, to quench it with something else, but then it gets all motivational on me? Great.
Overall: I still think it was a great book, and really different from what I've read recently.