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 picked this one up at the library, read it that night, and dropped it off at 1:00a.m. because I knew there was a waiting list for it. It did not disappoint me in the least.
High school seniors do a lot of stupid shit. I was a reckless, 17 year old with something to prove at one point in my life. And I think one of the marvels of this is how real both Heather's and Dodge's voices are. Both start playing panic for similar but different reasons: Heather's boyfriend has just broken up with her and she needs to numb the pain; Dodge's reason is a bit more hidden but we come to find that it is because of what happened during the Panic game that affects his family. I was rooting for both of them to win while hoping that they would come to realize that there are other -- and better -- ways to get revenge on life for being shitty (for lack of better terms).
I liked the idea of Panic as well. There are game makers behind it that choose the challenges that are dangerous enough that not everyone will play but not too dangerous that everyone who tries will die. There is a fine line when it comes to what they include and I thought it was executed perfectly. I thought the challenges were also ones that could be easy for anyone in any town to think of and do without them being so extravagant that the 17 year old game makers couldn't have thought of them on their own.
I liked that there was some mystery to this one as well -- who are the game makers? why are they choosing these challenges? how can they choose who the game makers will be without people knowing?? But they were all answered along the way and added a whole other dimension to this story.
I also really liked that there was more happening than just the Panic game. Dodge had some issues at home with his sister and mother and trying to get past his anger and resentment. Heather lived with a deadbeat mother and had to take care of her sister while ensuring the best future for herself. I liked that people rallied behind the both of them to help them realize that their problems -- while mountains, not mole hills -- were still easy to overcome if you had people in your life that supported them. There was so much going on in this story other than just the game of Panic, which added so much to the story and made it feel more real.
Overall: 4/5 stars. Honestly one of the best books I have ever read. The ending was a bit rushed in my opinion but it was so well thought out. I'm disappointed it was a standalone and not a series. Lauren Oliver really delivers with this one.
There is a Panic Origin Story, so check that out here!