Book Review of Panic by Lauren Oliver

Book Review of Panic by Lauren Oliver

Book Review of Panic by Lauren Oliver

Already optioned for film, Panic by Lauren Oliver is a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat tale about a dangerous game played by the seniors of Carp; a game whose participants have everything to gain and everything to lose.

Plot from 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.

Panic is narrated by two characters, Heather and Dodge, who have both entered ‘Panic’ for very different reasons. Heather wants to escape life in a trailer park with her drug-addict mother while Dodge wants retribution for the crash that led to his sister’s partial paralysis. It’s high stakes with a game that takes as its premise having to act out your worst fears. And with a high percentage of suicides, deaths and injuries, Heather and Dodge are taking their lives into their own hands just by participating.

Oliver has created two interesting and well conceived characters in Heather and Dodge. Dodge, in particular, is a complex character; his dark need for vengeance tempered by the affection he feels for Heather’s friend Natalie. The teenagers of this novel are dealing with many coming-of-age issues: the realization that your parents are not ‘gods’ but people as flawed as you are, the highs and terrible lows of love, the development of identity, and in particular, the need to face our fears. One of Oliver’s strengths is her deep understanding of and sympathy for the transitional stage of teenagehood; a period of life that I’m sure many of us would never want to live through again.

A fast-moving read with great characters and twists and turns to keep you reading long into the early hours.

7 out of 10 stars




  • Good main characters, particularly Dodge
  • Interesting concept


  • It paled in comparison to Before I fall for me (Oliver's debut novel)

About alicia_gaffney

Alicia Gaffney is a book lover and aspiring writer. She teaches at university and is in the third year of her PhD, writing a thesis about Australian author Eleanor Dark. Her pet peeves are running out of bookshelf space and poor spelling/grammar. When not writing or reading, Alicia is usually being bossed around by her cat Lottie. But she doesn't mind, at least her boss is cute and furry!

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