Panic by Lauren Oliver
In Carp, population 12,000, there’s not much for teenagers to do, especially in the summer. That was true until someone invented the “survivor” type game called Panic. All incoming seniors are eligible to participate and announce their intention by jumping off the jagged ridge at the old quarry into the natural pool at the bottom. Everyone puts a dollar per school day into the pot, and at the end of the summer, one winner takes everything. Naturally, there are about six totally frightening, and sometimes deadly, challenges that will eventually determine the winner. You must admit that it makes summers in Carp pretty interesting. The story is told from alternating perspectives. Heather never expected to play Panic, but will now do anything to win and be able to get away from her party girl mother who barely even took care of her and her little sister Lily. Dodge, on the other hand, has planned to enter and win Panic since his older sister was nearly killed in the final challenge two years ago. His goal to to get revenge on that year’s winner’t little brother, who is a favorite to win this year.
I loved this book, even though it is a total break from Lauren Oliver’s earlier dystopian series, Delirium. It is told in a format that separates the book into dated chapters, really keeping readers tense. The action feels non-stop, but realistic for this type of story. Oliver fleshes out the important characters, without spending much time on the peripheral ones, although learning a little bit more about Heather’s crazy mom would have been interesting. I’m sure this title will be a hit with all types readers, especially those looking for a realistic-feeling, heart-stopping read.