Age: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Rating: 4 stars
Rosie Thinks: I like to really scope out book before I read them, so I saw quite a few reviews saying it was another cheap take-off of 'The Hunger Games'. Are these people reading the same summary I read? Maybe the book was different? No - this book turned out to be absolutely nothing like THG. It is set in the small, dead-end town of Carp, NY, where every summer the seniors participate in a dangerous and sometimes deadly game called Panic. It is pretty much a game of chicken on steroids. The contestants are made to battle against all different times of fears, until they chicken out or get booted out of the running to win the grand prize of almost $70 000.
The story alternates between the POVs of Dodge and Heather - and no, there is no romance between these two (don't fear, though, there is romance). At the beginning, I wasn't so sure about this book. The premise is awesome and the mystery surrounding the whole game and the secrets kept me hooked, but Heather and Dodge's characters almost turned me off. At the start, Heather comes off as whiney and desperate. Dodge really interested me, because his mind switched between cold and clinical, of a boy who has grown up much too fast, to that of a teenage boy with a hopeless crush. Of course, since reading Oliver's 'Before I Fall', I knew to never judge one of her characters too quickly - and I was glad I didn't. This story sunk its hooks deep into my mind until I was so immersed in the world, I began to live and breath Panic. My mind kept going down different paths, trying to figure out all the twists and turns - I got some, but definitely not all. Heather and Dodge, and the rest of the supporting cast, made their way into my heart. Not one of them was good, yet not one of them was bad. Oliver's characterisation is phenomenal in the way that she created people who were real and had such incredible depths and layers. Not once did she tell the reader what the character was like - she showed you through examples and dialogue that was crafted to carry the most weight in the shortest amount of time.
'Panic' perfectly captures just how desperate these kids are, to get out of small town Carp and away from families that can pull them back into a never-ending cycle of despair and loneliness. So don't be put off by the beginning of this story. Allow 'Panic' to draw you in and have you on the edge of your seat until the explosive ending.
And PS, Goodreads has this book under the Dystopia category, but that's not right - it's definitely YA!