ARC Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Rating: 2 / 5
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Dystopia, Romance
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Check out on GOODREADS

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.


I have read and appreciated (although not really liked) Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, as well as its sequel. The main reason I didn’t enjoy those books was because of the flat writing style. The premise was quite unique and intriguing, though, which is why I tried Panic out.

The author’s writing style did improve, thank goodness. I remember falling asleep once while reading one of her previous books, and amazingly, that didn’t happen while I was reading Panic. The writing style kept me from putting the book down despite all of the problems I had with it.

One of these problems included the fact that the main characters were infuriating. The summary’s very misleading. Going into the story, I assumed that Heather and Dodge would get together and live a happily ever after, when in fact, there were actually four main characters in this story. We have Heather, her best friends Natalie and Bishop, and Dodge. Heather and Natalie pissed me off in the last, I don’t know, 90% of the book? They were too whiny and too emotional–I just wanted to pick a rock up from outside our house and fling it at them. Bishop and Dodge weren’t any better. Actually, I really loved Bishop in the first half of the book, but then he started getting weird, predictable things happened, then bam! I was irritated at him, too. Dodge was overall an okay character, but there were some times that he pushed my buttons.

I also really disliked the romance(s). This might be a spoiler, but not really since it was pretty obvious. Dodge has had a crush on Natalie for a while. At first, I thought it was really cute and realistic. When they started the actual kissing and all that jazz, I couldn’t stand it! I think if it were with a different character that wasn’t as annoying and bitchy as Natalie, I would have liked it. The other relationship involved Bishop and Heather. This one was equally as annoying since it was very cliche. It wasn’t even cute! Normally, I would love romances between best friends, but their relationship was so odd and they did not have chemistry.

The actual plot was interesting, though. I liked learning about Panic, the judges and the contestants. I liked the idea of the game, the initiation and most of the challenges. They were intense, engaging and mind blowing scenes. Each character also had individual challenges which were based on their fears. I loved how fear was expressed, but I wished that the characters would’ve developed better or got stronger after their challenges. That would’ve made the individual challenges have an actual purpose in the book. Despite having no real twists (I’m saying this because there was one, but it was so predictable), the general plot was good and done well in an interesting manner.

I also liked the relationships that weren’t between the main characters, mainly, relationships with their siblings. Dodge was very sweet to his sister, Dayna, who was limp and couldn’t walk. I mean, he joined Panic for her–to get revenge on the one who hurt her. Heather was also very kind and caring to her sister. These relationships made me wish that I’d be kinder to my brother.

Overall, I still think that the hate I feel for the characters overruled my like of the plot. I do wish to read more from Lauren Oliver in the future, though. The next time around, I hope her character development would improve as much as her writing style did.

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Aimee is a sixteen year old bookworm from the Phillipines! She reads any book that catches her attention, but she mostly reads YA. She's into graphic design, writing and sleeping. You can find her at Deadly Darlings, The Book Geek, Goodreads and on Twitter.

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  1. says

    Aw, I’m sorry you didn’t like this one more! I actually did enjoy it quite a bit. It’s funny you mentioned the writing style, since I actually adored it before and thought that it was less good in this one, haha. But I have to say – I’m a sucker for prettily dressed sentences, even if they aren’t THAT relevant.

    It’s really interesting to see your opinion on this one, since it differs so much from mine! The romance between Heather and Bishop, for example, I thought was pretty cute. Oh well, the world would be so boring if we’d all agree on everything, wouldn’t it? ;)

    Great review, it’s lovely to read the opinion of someone who didn’t think nearly the same of it as I did!

    • Aimee says

      Ah, well, we can’t all have the same opinions. If we did, the world would be such a boring place. Lol :)

      I do think the novel really had a lot of potential, but maybe, since Lauren Oliver’s a pretty well-loved author, I’ve set my standards too high for this one. I’m still interested to read more from this author, though!