Review: Panic

17565845Panic by Lauren Oliver
Published: March 4th 2014 by HarperCollins
Pages: 408

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.
"How do I know I can trust you?", she said finally.
"That's the thing about trust." He crunched an ice cube between his teeth. "You don't know." 
Actual rating: 2.5

I didn't know what to expect, yet Panic isn't what I thought it would be, and not in the best way. I wonder how Lauren Oliver, best-selling author of the Delirium series which I loved, could publish this very novel. What happened?

The fact that I rated Panic two and a half stars has everything to do with the following issue: how the supposed plot got put in the background. I find this to be so disappointing because the game was amazing. However it reminded everyone of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, I loved the idea of something like that in realistic circumstances. All the challenges were very well done and I really enjoyed reading every one of them. This plot had potential to be something good, repeating had. This book was full of unnecessary romance and other contemporary drama I didn't sign up for.

To start with the romance, in my opinion it was all over the place. One moment we're focused on this couple and then a break-up and a new romance and another break-up and drama... It was just way too much. I don't understand why Lauren Oliver did this because it didn't bring much to the book as a whole. It was more like filling the pages with the best thing she could come up with. Instead of filling it up with romance, I would have preferred it a lot more if she stretched the duration of each challenge. They were over before you knew it and then you had to wait a rather long time before getting to the next one. Furthermore, I didn't like who ended up with who despite the problems they had in their past. Call me stupid, but I didn't find any hints pointing in the direction of them getting together.

Moving on the characters. As I didn't support any romances, you can guess I didn't like many characters either. Natalie was a disgusting, self-centered hellcat who should have died in the game and Lily reminded me way too much of Prim than I should have. Others were rather flat and unlikeable. The only characters who stood out a little were Heather, Dodge and Dayna because of their backstories. I like when certain characters come from poor social environments, especially when they're not whiny or give up way too easily. It shows that they're strong and won't go down without a fight. I recognized this in both the narrators and really appreciated that.

To sum up the last good and bad things, I'd like to start with the good. The plot twists, or twist. I hadn't seen that one coming. I was surprised and excited with this new addition to the game. This also explained why I finished Panic in a jiffy. The challenges kept me going, even though the other dramas were boring and extended for chapters that didn't seem to stop. The climax was the best thing out of the entire novel. Together with the writing, I smiled when I read that last sentence. It ended beautifully, and I wouldn't have wanted it to end any other way. TColour me surprised when I discovered the epilogue. What the duck was that. It seemed like it was taken from a whole other book and was also just completely unnecessary. If I had the physical copy I would have likely ripped out those last pages because they didn't fit the story and, again, unnecessary. I don't know what its importance is, because it seems like there is none.

With an enjoyable pace and challenges that keep you sitting on the edge of your seat, Panic had so much potential to be a great successor to the Delirium series. It was only then when I discovered the messy plot, meh characters and cheesy epilogue. It's not like it was awful, but overall quite the disappointment.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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