Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
ARC provided by publisher
Panic by Lauren Oliver is a YA contemporary about a group of teens in a high-stakes game of dares. They live in a crappy town and the money that seniors are forced to pony up throughout the school year goes to the winner of Panic. Because, apparently, in this town, no one is smart enough or athletic enough to get a scholarship. Or, you know, a part-time job.
I know that sounds harsh, but if you're willing to buy into the premise, Panic is a fast read. It's told from the POV of Heather, a girl who's trying to protect her sister from their druggie mom, and Dodge, a guy who's out for revenge.
There are secrets among the players, most of them obvious. But there is also action, as the players have to go through contests that test their fearlessness. These are probably the best parts of the book, as I caught myself holding my breath through some of them.
The characters are also another strong part of the book. Heather and Dodge are well-rounded and have clear arcs where they change. Again, if you can get past the premise, then the characters will engage you to read to the end.
I'd recommend Panic to readers who enjoyed Dare You To by Katie McGarry or Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher.
Bonus video: Lauren Oliver discusses the inspiration for Panic