PUBLISHER: Harper Collins (hard copy & audio)
LENGTH: 416 pages; 8 hrs. 11 min.
SOURCE: purchased audiobook
SUMMARY: 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.
REVIEW: I was wary of starting this one because I had been so disappointed in Pandemonium and Requiem. I thought Delirium was amazing and I think that Oliver’s strength as an author is nailing the initial conflict. The other two books in the Delirium series seemed a bit drawn out for me and the initial verve I felt with the first installment fizzled as I finished the third book.
Panic is completely a winner! Everything I loved about Delirium is back in Oliver’s newest. The tension of “getting caught” is there as Heather and her friends continue to play the Carp community’s traditional rite-of-passage game, Panic, despite mishaps early on. Many of the Panic challenges are deadly as well as being incredibly scary. I thought the balance between Heather’s fear and her determination to win was perfect. Saddled with a drug addicted, neglectful mother and the responsibility of looking after her younger sister Rachel, Heather has everything to lose if she gets eliminated from the game.
The tension in the book is heightened with dual narration between Heather and Dodge. Oliver avoids the predictable love affair between the two main competitors, which is nice. Heather’s love interest is a little obvious but one feels it’s supposed to be obvious to everyone but her. Dodge is just tortured enough to keep the reader interested without it being too depressing. His interest in Heather’s friend Natalie seems genuine and she is just as broken as he is so it seems a good match. There is good balance between character development and plot events satisfying both the need for tension and the desire for resolution.
Overall, the book is a great foray back into contemporary realistic fiction for Oliver and, as always, she is a master of the stand-alone novel. Well done.