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Fear Factor on Steroids: A Review of Lauren Oliver’s “Panic” Description: “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. “

My Thoughts:

This was another great story by Lauren Oliver! She is quickly becoming one of my must read authors. I can count on Oliver delivering an intriguing plot, well-developed characters and vivid descriptions.

Panic did have a misstep for me in Dodge Mason and his family. I could have used more description so that I could better visualize these characters. Fortunately, it didn’t take away from his story. He’s one of those characters that you’d like to read about in a novella. There are layers to his personality and Panic only hit a few.

The remaining characters in Oliver’s tale shined. I especially loved the character of Heather. Readers should easily be able to identify with Heather. She was a smart girl who was much stronger than she realized. Another memorable character was Bishop. He reminded me a lot of what Kent from Before I Fall would have been like if we had spent more time with him. Another character that stuck out for me was Nat. She was the pretty little girl who wanted to be so much more. Unfortunately, she was the type who would fall for anything just to achieve something. And, like Heather, Nat didn’t realize her strengths.

A great aspect of Panic was the development of the relationships. Each friendship was fully developed. I came to understand why the characters interacted the way they did. By the end of the book, I was sympathizing with Dodge. He finally realized what he had missed staying isolated.

The descriptions of the town of Carp, New York truly worked. Oliver did a fantastic job of relating the despair of its residents. I could easily visualize those who lived on Meth Row and the Fresh Pines trailer park. Anne’s home and ranch were a breath of fresh air for a teen who grew up in such a poor environment.

At first I thought the theme of Panic was conquering your fears. But, by the end of the book, I realized that it was about finding your strengths. We all have fears, big and small. But, not everyone finds what they’re good at–their strengths. Fortunately, Oliver’s characters learn that lesson in the end.

I highly recommend reading Panic.

Have you read all of Lauren Oliver’s young adult books? Then, be sure to pick up a copy of Vanishing Girls due out in March.

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