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Panic Hardcover – March 4, 2014
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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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Top Customer Reviews
No, my biggest issue with this book revolves around something that happens to one of the secondary characters, which is not only totally and completely unnecessary for the plotline, but is grossly mishandled (or rather, NOT handled at ALL) once presented.
SPOILERS AHEAD READ WITH CAUTION.
The main character's best female friend Natalie is an aspiring model. Despite being underage (her birthday is only a few weeks away) she attempts to audition at the local mall for a model casting. When she learns that they're checking IDs she's initially disappointed, until some shady man gives her a card and tells her she's beautiful and that he believes she'll be a great model.
Now we all know where this is going right? We all know that man has ZERO intentions of making Natalie a legit model.
And honestly, if this were as far as it went, it'd be disturbing... but I'd have been able to live with it.
Except it doesn't end there. No, in fact that's only the ominous tip of the effed up iceberg.
Later in the book, just before the final challenge, Natalie throws herself a party, and it's pretty clear that she's not her usual self. She and her new love interest (the male protagonist of the novel) have this conversation, in which he discovers she followed up on creepy guy's modeling offer. And--as we all suspected--it was phony. The reader is led to believe that Natalie slept with this guy under the impression that, if she did, she'd be hired as a model. And it very obviously messes with her on an emotional level.
But that's it. This horrifying, disturbing event takes place, and the author doesn't deal with the consequences of the action.
She's essentially had one of her characters raped, and doesn't bother to address the fall out. Natalie spends her birthday crying and upset, but in the next day or so, she's completely fine again, as if she didn't just have sex with some creepy stranger for a job that never existed in the first place. As if that wasn't some kind of life altering event.
This book is YOUNG ADULT. Why, oh why would a FEMALE author do something like that to one of her characters, and then just not address it?
What purpose did it serve to the plot, other than to momentarily break the relationship up with the male protagonist? Couldn't that break have been accomplished another--less horrifyingly destructive way?
Young kids are reading this--and knowing something so truly horrific is just glossed over and downplayed, even tough it's a very serious matter that could potentially happen to people today...it's offensive.
Honestly that one incident destroyed whatever little love I had for the book in the first place. I finished reading it HOPING that the issue would come up, that Natalie would tell her best girl friend what had happened, that she would react appropriately and would be shown the support someone in that situation would likely need--but no. Nothing. The only redemption we have for this fallen character is in the last chapter, where the main female protagonist offhandedly mentions that Natalie has started taking acting classes at the local community college. That's it. Nothing about how Natalie is coping emotionally with the situation, nothing about the creepy man being brought to justice for sleeping with underage women... nothing.
Honestly the whole situation was totally arbitrary and unnecessary. I really don't know what Oliver was thinking when she tossed that bit in.
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. I won’t go into detail because a lot of it had to do with Panic but honestly, I found it extremely hard to believe that you would put yourself into some of these life threatening situations for money.
The story itself however drew me in immediately. I can’t even pinpoint what it was other than pure curiosity to see how the story would end. I was entirely into this story until the very last page, the game Panic, while absolutely ridiculous was also equally thrilling. On of my main dislikes about the book though was the predictability. I could see where the story was going before it got there, and only the final few pages had me unsure of what would happen.
Another aspect that turned me off from loving this book, and this is upon reflection the following days, is the memorability. Unfortunatly for me Panic, and the thrill that I felt when reading it, especially in the last few chapters… went away. It is almost forgettable. I actually could not remember if there were two POV’s or three POV’s, I had to go back to my Kindle to doublecheck! When I finished Panic, I knew this was going to be one that I would have to mull over before writing my review or rating it and ultimately, after my excitement died down, I didn’t love it as much as I expected to. I find this is a trend for Lauren Oliver books with me: I get so entirely swept up with her writing, her prose and her stories that when I finish, it’s like I’m mixed up. I thought I hated Delirium when I finished it, then after a bit of reflection, I realized I was in LOVE with it… that’s how strong the emotion was. Before I Fall, I finished and was an emotional wreck but thought I loved it… and then days later I found a lot of things I didn’t love. Now obviously this practice didn’t go entirely in Panic’s favor however it does attest to Oliver’s writing. She’s a beautiful writer and her stories are captivating when your reading them.
Despite my issues with Panic, it was a really good story. It was thrilling when it needed to be, had an interesting and unique concept and had me clinging onto the story until the very last word.
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