Review Blog

Mar 27 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

cover image

Hodder & Stoughton, 2014. ISBN 9781444723038.
(Age 14+) Recommended. Thriller. Adolescents. Risk-taking. Poverty. Heather has never thought that she was the sort of person to put her life on the line, but she finds herself taking part in Panic, the game that is traditionally played by graduating seniors because there is nothing else to do. Everyone puts into the pot and the prize money offers the winner a way out of poverty and small town life. Heather lives in a trailer in Carp, a dead end town. Her mother is an alcoholic, her father dead and all she wants is to leave for a new life. Dodge is bitter. His sister Dayna, lost the use of her legs playing Panic, and there is no money to help her regain mobility. He is playing Panic to get revenge on the family that caused Dayna's car to crash in the game. But all the players have secrets and will have to face enormous fear. What will the players do to win $67,000?
The story Panic brings to the fore the lives that some young people have when they live in a town where there is little to do. Boredom ensures that the game will be followed and there will always be people who will play it in the hope that they will be the winner; risk-takers who are in it for the thrill and those who see the money as the only way out. On one level the book is a thriller, keeping the reader on the edge of the seat as the players participate in terrifying games and numbers are gradually whittled away leaving only a few contestants. On another level it is an analysis of the factors like poverty, abuse, and poor self-esteem that push the players to the limit.
The story is told in two voices, that of Heather and Dodge. Heather seems to have no future, hates Carp and believes that her problems would go away if only she could leave. Dodge is a loner, angry and determined to win even though he knows firsthand just how badly it can all turn out. He is in love with Nat, Heather's best friend, who has problems of her own but who also wants to win. They make a pact to help each other, while Heather's best friend, Bishop tags along. There are mysteries to solve along the way - who are the anonymous judges and how do they know the innermost fears of the contestants? Will the police be able to stop the game and will anyone die?
This is an enjoyable story that makes the reader think about the risks that this group of teens will take to make changes and whether it is money or leaving town that will ultimately change their lives.
Pat Pledger

Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
Miles Franklin longlist 2017
Reading Children's Book Prize 2017
Klaus Flugge Prize shortlist 2017
Branford Boase Award shortlist 2017
Text Prize 2017
NSW Premier Literary Awards shortlist 2017
Aurealis Awards winners
YABBA Awards shortlist 2017
Stella Prize 2017
2017 YALSA Teens' Top Ten Nominees
CBCA shortlists 2017
YA Book Prize 2017 shortlist
School Library Association Information Book Award 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Science fiction and fantasy lists SAETA conference 2015
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Books for boys
Bookmark and poster templates