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Panic Hardcover – March 4, 2014

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: Imagine a game that required you to walk, on a dark rainy night, across a narrow plank 50 feet in the air between two water towers. What could be worth that or any of the other terrifying tests of reckless courage in the game of Panic? For Dodge and Heather, graduating high school seniors of Carp, population 12,000, winning means a $67,000 chance at freedom from their claustrophobic town. In Panic, Lauren Oliver's characters are imbued with the emotional intricacy of teenagers hungry for both connection and new beginnings, some hiding secrets that blunt even the most frightening challenge the game can impose. Although there can only be one winner, a competition based on fear shapes powerful new relationships, understanding, and even forgiveness. --Seira Wilson

PANIC Playlist by Lauren Oliver

One of the things I loved most about writing Panic was that the fictional town of Carp became, in a way, a secondary character. Carp is small, and it’s poor; it’s a place where opportunities come rarely, if ever, and change comes not at all. Most of all, it’s a place that inspires dreams of escape. I’ve assembled this playlist with Carp—and the places like it, filled with people who dream of getting out—in mind.

“Blowin' Smoke” by Kacey Musgraves: I love the way this song focuses on a very specific moment in the day of a small-town waitress. The waitresses talk about their plans to get out, to live a better life, but in the end all they’re doing is “blowing smoke.” The song paints a great picture of these characters with both humor and pathos.

“Spaceship” Feat. GLC and Consequence by Kanye West (WARNING: Lots of F-bombs): An angry, biting perspective from someone working long days at an insipid job for very little money.

“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke: Some of the most powerful lyrics in music history, sung by one of the most powerful voices. “I was born by a river in a little tent, and just like that river I’ve been running ever since.” ALL THE FEELS!

“Poor Man” by Old Crow Medicine Show: This haunting song is part ballad, part lullaby. The singer laments the seeming futility of being a poor farmer, but nonetheless makes sure to tell his “honey” that “things are gonna get better.”

“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen: OBVIOUSLY I had to include a Bruce Springsteen song! Springsteen has so many songs that could have made the list, but this one is a classic! “Baby this town rips the bones from your back, it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap. We gotta get out while we’re young. “Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.” Take me with you, Boss!

“The Long Way Around” by Dixie Chicks: In places like Carp, life can seem limited: nothing changes and nothing ever will. This song shows that there are other options, other paths you can take, even if you have to be “taking the long way” to get there. This is the story of someone who made it out.

“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman: No matter how many times I hear it, this song breaks my heart. Tracy Chapman tells the story of a person who believes she’s going to make it away from her insular and impoverished life, only to find herself trapped in the same cycle she thought she was escaping. In the chorus, she reminisces about the brief time in which it seemed as though everything was going to get better. It hurts in the most beautiful way. Confession: this was my all-time most-played song in high school.

“Merry Go ’Round” by Kacey Musgraves: I know, this is the second song I’ve included from Kacey Musgraves, but hey—if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “Merry Go ’Round” is the perfect metaphor for the systematic cycles of poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse that ensnares people in places like Carp. “Just like dust, we settle in this town.”

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—There's not much to do in tiny Carp, New York, so a group of teenagers take it upon themselves to create their own excitement through Panic, a risky game with potentially deadly sets of challenges. Panic is all about facing fears, and this year's winner will take home a pot of $67,000. Both Heather and Dodge need to win for personal reasons, and they decide to form an alliance, one that will be threatened repeatedly throughout the game. The large cast of characters slowly reveals secrets, schemes, and fears that complicate the competition and its outcome as they participate in increasingly dangerous trials. Oliver maintains a high level of tension throughout, starting right in the middle of the action and relentlessly building momentum. The desperate and broken characters are willing to do just about anything to win, making it impossible to guess how the story will unfold. A mix of fear and determination permeate the writing, often manifesting in clipped, no-nonsense tones and a straightforward approach to unimaginable situations. The bleak setting, tenacious characters, and anxiety-filled atmosphere will draw readers right into this unique story. Oliver's powerful return to a contemporary realistic setting will find wide a readership with this fast-paced and captivating book.—Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Apollo High School Library, St. Cloud, MN

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062014552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062014559
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (298 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Lauren Oliver is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, which was published in 2010; Panic; and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. She is a 2012 E.B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee for her middle-grade novel Liesl & Po, as well as author of the fantasy middle-grade novel The Spindlers. Panic, which was published in March 2014, has been optioned by Universal Pictures in a major deal. Her first novel for adults, Rooms, was published in late September 2014. Upcoming in March 2015 will be Vanishing Girls, a gripping YA novel. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU's MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. You can visit her online at

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#41 in Books > Teens
#41 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

I would highly recommend this to anyone that is looking for a great YA realistic contemporary read, it will not disappoint.
Dark Faerie Tales
Things were left unfinished and I felt like the story was building up to this huge ending but what I actually got felt a bit lackluster.
Dayla F.M.
Panic is not like the others Lauren Oliver books I read, except for the incredible writing and the well developed characters.
Lis @ The reader lines

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on March 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I was so excited to get an eARC of Panic; Lauren Oliver is by far one of my favorite authors and after Requiem being my most anticipated book of 2013, I was itching to get wrapped up in another one of her stories.

My first impression of Panic was surprise honestly. I have no idea why I thought this, but I was shocked that this was a contemporary! For some reason I thought it was another dystopian so I was actually pleasantly surprised to find out it was a contemporary!

Panic is a game that seniors play the summer after they graduate. It’s risky, scary and basically all about what it says … Panic. The story is told in dual point of views, Heather’s and Dodge’s. They are both competing in Panic and both for very different reasons.

I had a very, very hard time with these characters. It took me a long time to warm up to Heather, I didn’t find her unlikable exactly but I found her bland and boring. I eventually did start to like her and her relationship with her younger sister was endearing and lovely. Her decision-making was completely askew although I supposed that could be accounted for her terrible home life. Dodge, I didn’t like, and I didn’t ever end up liking him. He was completely warped. Because he was so messed up, even when he did somewhat nice things, I couldn’t warm up to him at all. Natalie, Heather’s best friend was selfish and Bishop, her other best friend was probably the most likeable character of all. He wasn’t a favorite of mine, and I will most likely forget I liked him in the future but while I was reading I did enjoy him. I think one of the most difficult things about these characters is that they all had an incredibly poor moral compass. Every single one of them had such poor judgement, the decisions and situations they were in unbelievable.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lauren Oliver's PANIC is a gripping YA thriller about a crazy summer contest among high school seniors in the little town of Carp, New York. Supposedly this contest - called "Panic" - has been going on in Carp for decades. All through their senior year, Carp students must pay a dollar a day into the pot, which will later be used to pay the two secret judges and the eventual contest winner. Anyone who objects to shelling out the cash is subjected to intimidation, threats, and physical abuse. Any senior can play, and the competitions are dangerous and life-threatening. People get hurt playing Panic. And they die.

The story itself focuses on two Panic contestants, Heather Nill and Dodge Mason. Heather wasn't planning to play Panic, but when her boyfriend breaks up with her, she figures she has nothing to lose. Dodge says he wants the prize money (over $60,000), but he has other reasons more complex and devious. Oliver's novel follows the course of the contest as Heather and Dodge, along with their friends Nat Velez and Bishop Marks, try to survive an increasingly terrifying series of stunts that could very well cost them their lives.

For PANIC to work, the reader must be able to suspend disbelieve, and that's not easy. This isn't some post-apocalyptic world where teenagers routinely challenge each other to the death. This isn't HUNGER GAMES! This is plain old ordinary small-town New York, where a bunch of recent high school grads are willing to risk everything for the chance at a wad of cash. This contest has supposedly been going on for a very long time, which is in itself difficult to believe. Carp's high school seniors are strong-armed into paying a daily tribute to finance Panic, but no one at the school seems to know anything about it. How is that possible?
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Farrah on March 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Thrilling, unpredictable, and full of secrets, Panic was a fantastic YA read. I really enjoyed reading this fantastic book. Absolutely wonderful!

Panic was a game that came about from a group of bored teenagers. And, from there, it became a dangerous tradition that resulted in injuries and deaths. Every summer, the recent high school graduates complete in a series of challenges. Over the 4 years of high school, every student would contribute money to create the winning prize amount. The seniors would go through dangerous tasks, each eliminating more and more players, until the winner was chosen to win the money. All the while, two anonymous judges set the challenges and chose the winners. The whole situation that Lauren Oliver created was flawless. I could imagine that sort of thing happening in a small town full of bored teenagers. It was flawlessly built into a thrilling game that had me on the edge of my seat.

The story is told through the main characters, Heather and Dodge, in alternating perspectives, so I'll focus on the narrators first.
Heather was a tough chick. She didn't have the best situation at home and she wanted to win the money so that she could take care of her sister and get her away from her neglectful mother. She was strong, determined, and extremely dedicated to caring for her loved ones. I really liked her. She was definitely a worthy heroine.

Dodge was a little sketchy at first. He wanted to win Panic as a means for revenge and he was quite ruthless about it at first. But, then his priorities shifted and it no longer became about winning, but about making sure he and his friends survived the games. I liked him. He was sweet and loyal to those he cared about. And he proved himself as a worthy character with what he did at the end.
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