PJV Quickie: This novel was not what I expected, but as usual Lauren Oliver delivered a well-written and character driven young adult novel. Her characters were not the usual fare though — and this set PANIC a part from other’s in the genre. Oliver, in her usual stylish flare, delivered a thrilling and emotional read that was nothing like I’ve ever encountered before.
Review: PANIC is a story about a backwater town that engages in a very dangerous game to entertain the bored teenagers. The game is a thrill seekers dream, composed of a series of daring stunts that are usually illegal, most of the time dangerous and sometimes deadly. There are many characters in Panic, but the main two are Heather and Dodge. Most of the characters from this small town are poor, with bad home lives and dying to break free from their current lives. Heather’s mother is an addict, they live in a trailer park and her boyfriend, the only light and comfort in her life, just cheated on her. Heather, on a whim joins Panic.
Dodge has other thoughts in mind when he joins Panic. His goal is that of revenge. The goal is to take out the little brother of the boy that crippled his older sister. A brother for a sister. While Dodge’s pursuits aren’t that positive he finds himself with allies in Heather and her group. But, as their alliances grow deeper, the dynamic of the group changes, along with people’s perceptions of right and wrong and what they will do to win the big prize.
A good read, one that I highly recommend. The uniqueness of the story made this book so refreshing and I had to sit down and finish it in one setting. Oliver’s pacing was spectacular and I was completely engrossed as she went from one thrilling scene to the next. Heather and Dodge’s lives were fascinating, while a bit disconcerting so I couldn’t get enough. Their actions made me feel uncomfortable at times and rooting for them at other points. There is one thing that Oliver masters — writing emotional stories. She just has this way of capturing life and bringing out all the little idiosyncrasies of these characters that make them so real.
The head hopping did get confusing at times though, especially since it was in 3rd person. I enjoy sticking with a character, or reading 1st person POV if the head is jumping. The narrative and character switching did leave me with a less personal attachment to the characters then I would have liked.
Recommendations: If you are looking for a different type of contemporary young adult, check out Panic. I would recommend this for a mature audience though, because the characters are 18 years old and do discuss topics that are more suitable for older teens. Drugs, sexual interactions and violence are discussed but are not explicitly covered.