Monday, March 3, 2014
Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver
The title, Panic, refers to a secret game that occurs every year after high school graduation. The seniors enter, and it is made up of many dangerous challenges. What is the purpose? Well, throughout the year students give money, according to our narrators, the money is given whether they want to or not. And by the time of the competition, there is a huge prize amount. Often $40,000 or more! Many people have their own reasons to enter, of course the money is a big one. Originally, Heather's friend Nat was going to be the one of their group to enter. But then at the night of the first event, Heather sees her boyfriend with another girl, and decides to enter as well. Heather's home life isn't great, she can really use the money to help get herself and her younger sister out of the trailer park where they live with their druggie/alcoholic mother. Nat is not happy with Heather at first. And their other friend, a boy named Bishop, is worried as well.
Dodge has a reason besides money to enter. Revenge. It was only a few years ago when his sister Dayna was competing, and in a car accident, the last challenge, was paralyzed. And Dodge wants to get revenge against the younger brother of the boy who won that year and crippled his sister. Dodge isn't well liked, he has been picked on and treated like an outsider, even though his family had lived there for a few years. Longer it seemed than his family had lived in other places. He has always been interested in Heather's friend Nat, except that at a party one time she called him by the wrong name. As he begins hanging out with Heather, Nat, and Bishop, he soon learns that the name mistake may be due to the fact that Nat is a bit of a drinker.
As we go through all the challenges, the cops get called, people get hurt, someone dies. There are deals made to share the winnings, and then later deals are made with others, then broken. Not all three can make it till the end in our group. It will get down to just two of them and one other at the end. The judges who create the competitions are anonymous, only Dodge might just figure out who one is. One of them will end up in the hospital after a challenge, but then make it out to go on to compete again.
A lot of suspense, and a good ending that had me gasping when a twist occurred, only to turn out to be the perfect way to end the story. The characters' lives will change in many ways. Reasons for revenge may be changed, love interests develop, and friendships are tested. Family problems will develop, and then will actually help to learn what real family is. A good story, I recommend it for a contemporary read.