Book Review #9: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Monday, 29 December 2014
Product details:
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd.
Format: Hardback
Length: 416 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Given as a present
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.

So what did I think of Panic by Lauren Oliver? Well I have to say that although I own the entire Delirium trilogy by her, this was the first Lauren Oliver book that I picked up, and honestly I had high expectations from it. Similarly to We Were Liars to E Lockhart this was a Booksplosion book of the month (if you are unaware to what the Booksplosion book of the months are then read my We Were Liars review linked here). I started this book off with high expectations as mentioned before, and were those expectations met? Unfortunately not as much as I would have liked, and although I gave this book a 3 star rating, it feels that a 2.5 would be more appropriate. 

The general plot. I did generally enjoy the concept - a high risk game conducted in the summer holidays that in which you faced some deadly fears, all for the grand prize money of $50,000? The winner would be able to use the money to get out of the deadbeat down they lived in and to be able to start a new. So far I admit I thoroughly enjoyed the premise. It really captured my attention and drew me in to want to continue with it. This novel reminded me a bit of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline in the terms of a mass competition, and I really enjoyed Ready Player One so this book seemed to be getting all of the praise from me. The challenges were really entertaining to read about, were detailed in their description and did promote that ‘panic’ in me, a shortness of breath as I fully sympathised with the characters on how they were feeling. That is something of Lauren Oliver’s writing that I admire, she really knows how to grip you in with her words. Her writing as well is another feature to fully admire. Lauren Oliver can use adjectives in a way that I am yet to come across with another author. Quite often you see a lengthy paragraph filled with adjectives and you are put off because of the pace of the work. Lauren Oliver manages to overcome that 'put off' feature - I don't know how she does it but her words flow quite lyrically and never allow you to get bored, no matter how much description there is. 

So what about the characters? Well there was a whole variety of them and each had their own distinguishable voice, I liked that a lot. Each character's voice was made very distinct throughout the entire novel. Something that I find authors tend to struggle with these days - they all seem to blend into one. I also really enjoyed the backstories behind the characters that Oliver provides the reader, it really adds that relatable factor to each of them and I appreciated that immensely. I did really enjoy the reveal of that character who happened to be running the Panic games - I thought that this was a really confident choice for Lauren Oliver to make. It included a test of friendships in this novel, a feature that I find quite appealing as it is often a feature overlooked by most. I thought that it did promote a sense of realism which really promoted this book to me more and more by the second.
However, not all points in this review can be positive because on the whole, I am torn with whether I actually enjoyed this novel or not. At times I found the pace of the book to be quite slow. Not at all in the writing, as I mentioned before, Oliver has a way of turning a lengthy paragraph of pure description into feeling like you've only read a sentence. One of my main features however to point out was the duel point of views. I really wasn’t a fan of the narratives chosen and felt that it was really unnecessary to hear from both perspectives. Heathers POV for me would have been enough, as I found that I actually enjoyed her chapters more than I did reading Dodge’s, which is sad because I did enjoy Dodge’s character, just not his perspective on the situation. This really through me because I felt that if I wasn't enjoying a chapter from Dodge's perspective then I was probably missing out on crucial information from the storyline, which is a shame. 

Finally as I mentioned earlier on, I paired up Panic to sort of a Ready Player One - esk book, and I think this is where the book went majorly wrong for me. Probably my own flaw by paring it with such a highly acclaimed work in my opinion, Panic seemed to simply try just a little bit hard to be what it wasn't in the end. As I said, perhaps this is just my biased opinion and that I really wanted it to be similar to Ready Player One, but yeah I just feel that my expectations for all I had heard about this book were not as 5 star acclaimed as I had hoped.

So what do I give this book as an overall rating? It’s definitely a tough decision to make and finding the correct classification on my scale is hard. However this book was just a mixed mess for me, and although as I said I did enjoy the premise and some of the characters in this novel, there was just too much going on in the story that I wasn't picking up due to my dislike of one of the main narrators. Now as mentioned at the beginning of this review I am giving Panic by Lauren Oliver a 3 stars because that is what I feel it deserves, however in my heart of hearts I feel it lingers more to a 2.5 stars, because I was just looking for that little bit more to give this novel the 'wow' factor it was acclaimed for.

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