Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Book Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/Thriller
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes an extraordinary novel of fear, friendship, courage, and hope.

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of twelve thousand 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.

Already optioned by Universal Pictures in a major deal, this gritty, spellbinding novel captures both the raw energy of fear mixed with excitement as well as the aching need to find a place to belong.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book is going to be a tough one to review. Mostly because it took me awhile to actually get into it. The beginning of the book was all over the place and I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. However, as I read it, I got more and more drawn into the world that Lauren Oliver created. Apparently this book takes place in New York, I didn’t get that feeling. Maybe because I haven’t been to New York ever, but it just didn’t have that New York feel to it.

Panic is a game where secrecy is paramount and the theme of secrecy is carried on throughout the game. Not just between the main four of Nat, Dodge, Heather and Bishop, but through others as well. No one knows anything about the game. No one knows what the tasks will be or who the judges are. Panic thrives in secrecy. 

There is also a romance element that I did not particularly love. I don’t know why but I could not get behind who Heather, Nat, Bishop and Dodge chose to be with. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the couples. I was far more interested in the game and what was going to happen next. It’s never a good thing when I don’t really like the couples. So I was glad that the romance aspect was a much smaller part than I anticipated.

I wish we had seen more of Bishop & of Nat. I don’t feel like I got to know either of them as well as I got to know Heather and Dodge and so I didn’t really get to feel anything for them or about them. I adored Heather, she was easily my favorite character in the book. She valued family and really the only family that she truly loved was her little sister Lily. Her mom, Krista was a mess and home was not a safe place for Lily or Heather.

So Heather did the only thing she could think of. She took Lily and left home, staying in her mom’s car, showering with water from a hose & squatting to use the bathroom. Until, she let Anne in on her situation. From that point on, Lily and Heather lived with Anne. Anne was the woman that Heather worked for, caring for her animals, both wild and tame.

Dodge’s situation was rough as well. A few years prior, his sister Dayna was paralyzed while playing Panic. Ever since then, Dodge has wanted revenge on the player who nearly killed her. That’s what fuels him as he prepares to play this dangerous game. He values family, but in the end he does go a teeny bit to far in order to defend his family and seek justice for Dayna.

The game itself was exciting. I’ve never ever read anything like this and I was always curious to see what the game held in store for the players. Yes you do have to suspend reality but teenagers are notoriously reckless so the story wasn’t totally far out of the realm. Teenagers often “dare” their friends to do stupid things. Is it right? No of course not but I found this to be entertaining.

I didn’t expect feels in this book as I was told it was a YA thriller, but I got the feels and I big time teared up towards the end during a very specific part.I had tears dripping down my face and I had a lump in my throat.

This book is getting 4 stars. The beginning was a little slow and I found it to be kind of jumping everywhere initially. I couldn’t get behind the romance and I don’t feel like I got to know some of the characters as well as the others. I didn’t get the New York feel from it also but I wasn’t that bothered by it. I wasn’t expecting to have feels in this book but I did so props to Lauren Oliver for bringing the feels in with a YA Thriller. However, I did love the actual story. It was full of twists and turns which is exactly how I like my thrillers.