Saturday, December 20, 2014

Panic (Panic #1) by Lauren Oliver

    Title: Panic
    Classification: Young Adult
    Genre: Realistic Fiction/Contemporary
    Series: Panic
    Format: Hardcover: 416 pages
    Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (March 4, 2014)
    ISBN-10: 0062014552
    ISBN-13: 978-0062014559
    Author's Website:
    Notes: I love the author's writing style, so I bought this one. 

      Every year the town of Carp, New York runs an illegal game similar to Fear Factor with a get rich quick prize attached. The game is only open to that year's seniors and for some it is their only chance of escaping the poverty stricken town.

"No one knows who invented Panic, or when it first began. 

There are different theories. Some blame the shutting of the paper factory,which overnight placed 40 percent of the adult population of Carp, New York , on unemployment. (...) None of these stories is correct, however. Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere; because it was summer and there was nothing else to do.

The rules are simple. The day after graduation is Opening Jump, and the game goes all through the summer. After the final challenge, the winner takes the pot."

The only problem is that not everyone will come out of the games alive because this year the take is the largest ever. In the midst of the competition, two friends will enter hoping to change their circumstances. With alliances forged and broken, will their friendship survive the heat of the competition? More importantly, will they come out of the competition alive? With so much at stake, there is one thing you can bet on, not everyone will play fair and situations already dangerous will turn deadly. 

The last competitor standing will be the one to show no fear. Would you have what it takes to win?

This story had so much untapped potential, and while it was entertaining and I liked it, it could have been so much more. From the very beginning we know there are secrets about the game that only a handful of people know. The judges who remain anonymous throughout the competition also gain a substantial amount of wealth, and stories circulate of those who have escaped their fate by doing so. Greed, revenge, and hope are just some of the things which drive the competitors.

Heather never meant to enter the competition, but when her boyfriend dumps her just as she's about to tell him she loves him, she recklessly decides to risk it all and enter the competition. Her best friend, Nat, had already decided to enter and isn't too keen on having her best friend as competition. They end up making a pact that if either wins, they'll share the winnings with the other and they'll both escape.

Soon the two find themselves teaming up with Dodge who's motivation for entering is revenge. Dodge has a crush on Nat, and she uses that to her advantage luring him into a similar arrangement to the one she made with Heather. She's hoping to up her odds of coming out of the competition with something padding her pocket.

As the game progresses. the competition gets more intense as more and more competitors are eliminated and those still in the game begin to show just how far their willing to go to win. Unscrupulous behavior rears its ugly head, but I felt Ms. Oliver could have kicked this up a notch. Perhaps because it's a young adult novel, she just didn't want to go there? Additionally, some of the tasks assigned weren't what I would have expected and seemed to be more aimed at angering certain residents in the small town than testing a person's fearlessness. It made me wonder who was in charge of the overall competition and challenges and what was their motivation?

Overall, I gave this one 3 out of 5 roses. It was a book about friendship, trust, loyalty, greed, revenge, (in other words human nature)  and how we handle the fear and disappointments life throws our way. It's about growing up and realizing what's really important. I can see how some would compare this one to The Hunger Games, There are some definite similarities, but The Hunger Games way out classes this one in complexity and suspense. As for making this one into a movie? I think Hollywood may be on to something--the premise for the book was awesome. I do, however, highly recommend rewriting parts and making the story more gritty, developing the characters more, and making the contestants a tad more ruthless. I believe this is only the second book that I've ever said that about because usually I don't want Hollywood touching any part of a story. By the way, if you hadn't heard, Universal Pictures bought the movie rights to this one. We'll have to wait and see if it actually makes it to the big screen.

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