Publishing Date: March 4
Genre: young adult, thriller, contemporary
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.
Heather and Dodge, participants in a thrilling post-graduation game where the winner takes all, have different reasons for entering Panic. Heather jumps in to prove something to herself. Dodge, in a sense, plays for revenge. But Panic must be kept a secret from the adults and police of Carp — a small, poor town in the middle of nowhere — because Panic is the only chance any of the students have to escape and start a fresh, new life.
First of all, this is not dystopian and it is not another Hunger Games. Yes, it sounds like THG, and yes it sounds dystopian, but this is a thriller contemporary novel through and through. The high school graduates of Carp of years past devised a daring, life-threatening game where the winner takes $50,000 — money raised from the school population, $1 donated from each student for every day of high school attendance — and escapes the awful, poor, messed up town. The winner can do whatever they want: go to college, get surgery, travel the world, pick up and leave, become athletes or actresses, you name it. These students are desperate, and they will put their lives on the line for that chance to escape.
And that’s what fuels Panic, the desperation of the participants. Heather is deeply insecure, feels unloved and worthless, and she enters Panic blindly thinking she’ll catch the eye of her ex-boyfriend, when in reality she realizes she entered to prove something to herself and to the world. Every participants has a sad, angry, desperate story, and it fuels them throughout their frightening game. Jumping off tanks, crossing highways blindfolded…anything for the $67,000 pool for this year’s winner.
So why 2 stars? While this was well-written, dirty and gritty, honest, and filled with intense emotion, it just wasn’t the book for me. I continued reading because I love Oliver’s work, but this particular book was not meant to be read by me. Maybe I’ve never felt this angry, scared, insecure, or desperate, or maybe I’ve had a sheltered upbringing, or maybe I just never interacted with people in these dire situations. Who knows? This is not a reflection of the book’s quality, but rather my enjoyment of the book.
Thank you, Edelweiss and HarperCollins, for providing the book for review!