Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Recommendations, Review
Image from Goodreads
Title: Panic
Series: Panic #1
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: March 2014
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis 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 takes us to a small New York town where every summer the graduating seniors complete the game, Panic. the game tests each individuals nerves and confronts their fears, in the end the winner receives a large cash prize.
The main character, Heather, needs to win the money in order to get her little sister away from her mother’s care and the wreckage they call home. As opposed to the main male character, Dodge, who is playing for revenge *insert drum roll here*
At the start of the book you get  the feeling that Heather is broken. She has lost her boyfriend, she lives with an alcoholic mother and stepfather. Understandably, Heather feels cheated by the life she is forced to life. However, Heather has a great deal of inner strength and is determined to escape with her sister. Hoping to give her sister a way out of their awful surroundings.
The contradiction between physical weakness and inner strength is profoundly portrayed within the plot. Throughout the game Heather is portrayed as the weaker player (i think this is a deliberate ploy on Heather’s part). This theme was my favorite thing about Panic, the dichotomy of a person being both weak and strong is re-enforced through the narrative.
I loved Heather as a character as I found her inspirational/motivational. It was nice to see that Heather was able to overcome the obstacles standing in her way without having to be physically strong. For a teenage girl like myself the thought was comforting, especially when girls are still considered the weaker sex by many people.
The plot is both gripping and intense. The pacing was amazing. The imagery was exceptionally vivid making the events realistic and easy to imagine. I have to say I was shocked by how absorbed I got into the book, the pages flew by in a blur as I became engrossed within the story. Altogether the pacing, action, emotion and character all work together to create a highly enjoyable and compelling book.
Panic is perfect for fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games. I wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers as some of the themes may be too mature for them to comprehend.

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