Sunday, March 30, 2014

Panic | Lauren Oliver

Panic began as so many things d 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.
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. 

Non-Spoiler Review

I didn’t expect this book to be as intense as it was. As soon as I started the first page, we hit the ground running with the beginning of the epic games of Panic. In this small town of Carp, there’s an annual game of Panic, in which the contestants have to go through ridiculous, crazy challenges that usually endanger their lives. These games take place during the summer and only graduating seniors are eligible to participate. During the school year, each student must pay a dollar daily in order to fund these games, regardless of their age. This year the grand total is $67,000, but not everyone plays for the money. Dodge, Heather, and Nat, three unlikely contestants, all have their own reasons for playing. If you enjoy adrenaline-filled books that really get your heart racing, then I completely recommend this book!

Spoiler-Filled Discussion

I had a lot of expectations from this book because it was so widely spread around the book community, but not everything happened the way I thought it would.
For example, I thought Dodge and Heather were supposed to get together, but a few pages in, Dodge was pining over Nat, and Heather was acting jealous of Avery and Bishop. So right away, those predictions were out the window.

Disregarding all the couples, I thought that the entire game of Panic was incredibly cool, and incredibly dangerous. All of the challenges had my heart pounding just because there was a faint chance the characters wouldn’t make it. Out of all of them, I think the scariest one was when Heather was forced to put the gun to her temple and pull the trigger, not knowing whether the bullet would be fired. When I first read it, I was so confused as to why it was so hard for her to shoot a gun, because I missed that she was supposed to point it at herself. Putting myself in her position, I would be so scared to go through with it; add a father killing himself in the same way, and there’s no way I’d be able to go through with it.

The characters were pretty meh in this book. I really did enjoy seeing Heather grow throughout the book. From the beginning, she was super self-conscious and questioned practically everything she did. But as the book went on, she discovered that she really loved animals, despite what she previously thought. She was finally able to admit her tendencies to focus on the negative, and change it.

Both Nat and Dodge really annoyed me throughout the book. As characters, both were extremely flimsy and had strategies for Panic that weren’t…conventional. Nat basically got to the semifinals without lifting a finger, much like Foxface in The Hunger Games, except that Nat isn't that smart. She didn’t have to do the first challenge, nor did she really do anything in the second challenge. She was such a flaky character, I never felt like I could trust anything she said or did, which is why I don’t completely understand Heather’s friendship with her.

Contrastly, Dodge was extremely stubborn about everything he did. He completely immersed himself in every emotion he felt. When he felt anger and wanted revenge on Luke for paralyzing his sister’s legs, rather than simply beating Ray, Luke’s brother, in Panic, Dodge went so far as to almost kill him. When Nat showed him even the slightest bit of attention, he became the complete puppy dog and fell head over heels in love with her. Because he was so stuck in the emotion, he wasn’t able to accept the change that was happening. He wasn’t able to accept that Dayne, his sister, was getting accustomed to her new life. He couldn’t accept the fact that Nat was obviously using him. By not accepting this change, he was continually hurting himself.

Bishop as the judge was extremely predictable. As soon as Dodge noticed something weird, I knew one of the judges was Bishop. But I was also expecting the other judge to be revealed too. Personally I think it was Vivian because why else would she be in Bishop’s house.

Everything about the book was great, but I was slightly disappointed with the ending. Throughout the entire book there was so much intensity geared towards the end of the book: who would win, what would happen between Bishop and Heather, would Dodge get his revenge? On top of that, Heather took the car with the explosives in it, building on the anxiety, and the rest was a blur. And then all of a sudden we skip to like two months later and all of a sudden there’s a happily ever after ending. I really wanted to see the conversation between Bishop and Heather, and how Nat and Dodge ended up together.

If you guys were the judges of Panic, what kinds of tasks would you put? Let me know in the comments!