I finished reading this one a few weeks ago, and have been procrastinating on writing my review since then. Usually I review books within a day or two of finishing them, otherwise I run the risk of forgetting my initial thoughts and feelings.
On Panic, I'm really torn, and I think this it is this feeling that has left me somewhat lost in terms of finding the words to review it. It's Lauren Oliver, so I want to shout to the world how much I love her and her writing. Panic definitely does have some elements that are very Oliver-esque. Her beautiful prose has its moments in this book, where I'd back up and re-read a passage a second time, marvelling at her ability to put phrases together. On the other hand, I didn't love the story. Considering the storyline centres around a group of teens playing Panic, a daredevil-type contest that takes place over the course of a summer, I felt that the story should have been more of a page-turner. I'd pick up the book, read a few pages, and then not pick it up again for a couple of days. This made me sad. With Lauren's other books, I've gobbled up chunks of the book in one sitting, unable to put the book down.
I didn't love the characters either. There were certain moments where they were likeable, but I didn't find myself rooting for any of them. The story is told in alternating perspectives (but both third-person) between Heather and Dodge. I liked Dodge's character a little better than Heather's, but not by much. Both characters have their motivations for winning Panic (and it's large cash prize), but I just didn't care enough to root for either of them. Most of the time I found myself shaking my head at how this small town continually turned a blind eye away from the events of this contest -- most of the things that they did were downright dangerous! All of adults in the book are the stereotypical YA story adults -- not very present and completely un-adult-like. While I understand that adults don't usually play a significant role in YA books, it just seemed like the adults were all a bit too checked out in this book for it to still be realistic.
Panic was an okay read for me. I had a tough time rating it on Goodreads, wavering between two stars and three stars. Ultimately, I opted for three because it is still a Lauren Oliver story and has some of her beautiful writing scattered through. I just hope she can come up with a better story next time.
Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss. The fact
that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of
this book in any way.