Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Panic by Lauren Oliver


For a while I steered clear of this one because I thought it was a YA dystopian and people were saying it was like a bad Hunger Games clone. Now that I've read it, I'm wondering where people got that idea... because apart from a bunch of Fear Factor-like challenges, it's not very similar to THE HUNGER GAMES. If anything, it's like THE CASUAL VACANCY meets RUSH: a portrait of a dying small-town and kids who are willing to push the limits of decency to get out.

There are two main characters in this book: Heather and Dodge. Both of them joined the game for different reasons. Heather joined because she had nothing to lose. Dodge joined because he wanted revenge. Neither of them are very likable but as the story unwraps, you get a better idea of what's driving them, and all of the shades of nuances that make up their personality. And that right there is the difference between a "good" unlikable character and a "bad" one.

I don't want to say too much about this book because less is more going in, but these games aren't nice and safe and people do die. I also think the book jumped the shark (or maybe I should say, the tiger?) at the end, and I never really felt like I got proper closure regarding some of the things Nat did. But overall this was a fast, fun, bingeworthy read that I couldn't put down. Lauren Oliver is still the GOAT.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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