Author: Lauren Oliver
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
It's official; I honestly do not understand how Lauren Oliver rose to such fame. I can only say I wasn't too disappointed with Panic, because I did not go into the novel with high hopes. Before I Fall was an okay stand alone novel, but the Delirium series was a mess of disappointment. And yet, I figured I would give her one more shot to redeem herself.
Unfortunately, Panic was a flop. To begin with, the complete premise of the novel seems laughable absurd. "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." So, wait, you are telling me that for seven years, none of the adults and none of the police in Carp have tried to put a stop to this absurd game that the graduating seniors play? Not even after kids have become paralyzed and, what's more, died? Really? Talk about irresponsibility. And Oliver's claim in the novel that the entire police force in town is just too stupid to catch them is a laughable attempt to just write off my concern.
Okay, I can understand the lure from the seniors' point of view, I guess. After all, $67K is a lot of dough. But even that was a difficult part of the plot to stomach. These kids have nothing better to do than to terrorize each and every kid in the school into donating a dollar into the pot each day of school? And if they don't, then they are bullied and even beaten? By who? Where does the pot go, if the judges are supposedly unknown to everyone? They all just toss a dollar into a collection pot and walk away?
Let's bypass the plot, as I could go on and on about its absurdity all evening, and focus on the characters in the story. None of them were likable. Sure, I felt sorry for Heather, who decides to compete in Panic on a whim when her boyfriend breaks up with her and starts immediately shoving his tongue down another girl's throat. Who wouldn't want to jump off a cliff after that (um, me)? Her family life is even worse, with an alcoholic mother who spends all her time partying with her boo than raising her two kids. But then Heather went and did something so stupid as to letting the game take advantage of her situation when she had finally found a more healthy alternative. I had a hard time sympathizing with her after that. Plus, she spent an excessive amount of time moping about either Matt or Bishop, and I just couldn't deal with her.
Dodge is hardly any better. His reason for entering Panic was all about revenge, reverting to the stone age wisdom of an eye for an eye. As if that would solve any of his problems. It wouldn't, and could only end him in jail (except for, of course, the fact that the police in this town were apparently useless).
It was not a coming of age novel, and there was no epiphany moment for any of the characters. There are no memorable quotes, and no defining moments in the story. It was swallow, and pointless, certainly not heartfelt. Though the writing itself wan't bad, reading it just felt like a colossal waste of time.