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4.1 108
by Lauren Oliver

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From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes an extraordinary novel of fear, friendship, courage, and hope that Kirkus Reviews says "will have readers up until the wee hours," School Library Journal raves is "fast-paced and captivating," and E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls "a thrill a


From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes an extraordinary novel of fear, friendship, courage, and hope that Kirkus Reviews says "will have readers up until the wee hours," School Library Journal raves is "fast-paced and captivating," and E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls "a thrill a minute."

Panic began as so many things do 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. 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.

Editorial Reviews

Excitement doesn't come easy in dead-end Carp, New York. To spike the adrenalin, graduating high schoolers invented a dangerous game aptly called Panic and sweetened the lure with a large cash prize, a readymade ticket out of this nowhere town. Heather knows the human stakes of the contest; her own sister sits paralyzed from a previous game; but she enters anyway because of the money involved. Dodge joins the fray for a somewhat different reason. What they and the other competitors learn about themselves and each other grabs our attention in this new novel by Delirium trilogy author Lauren Oliver.

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—There's not much to do in tiny Carp, New York, so a group of teenagers take it upon themselves to create their own excitement through Panic, a risky game with potentially deadly sets of challenges. Panic is all about facing fears, and this year's winner will take home a pot of $67,000. Both Heather and Dodge need to win for personal reasons, and they decide to form an alliance, one that will be threatened repeatedly throughout the game. The large cast of characters slowly reveals secrets, schemes, and fears that complicate the competition and its outcome as they participate in increasingly dangerous trials. Oliver maintains a high level of tension throughout, starting right in the middle of the action and relentlessly building momentum. The desperate and broken characters are willing to do just about anything to win, making it impossible to guess how the story will unfold. A mix of fear and determination permeate the writing, often manifesting in clipped, no-nonsense tones and a straightforward approach to unimaginable situations. The bleak setting, tenacious characters, and anxiety-filled atmosphere will draw readers right into this unique story. Oliver's powerful return to a contemporary realistic setting will find wide a readership with this fast-paced and captivating book.—Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Apollo High School Library, St. Cloud, MN
Publishers Weekly
Heather and Dodge live in Carp, N.Y., a down-on-its-heels town where graduating seniors can participate in a secret annual game called Panic. Everyone contributes to the pot, with winner take all when the game begins. Players have died in the past, and Dodge’s older sister was paralyzed two years earlier; this year’s prize is $67,000. This is a purported return to realistic fiction for Oliver following her popular Delirium books, and it’s realistic in the way that Before I Fall was: in her setting and characters, if not the situations they face. The stakes of Panic are extraordinarily high; an early challenge has competitors crossing between two water towers on a narrow plank, and things only escalate. Oliver runs no risk of idealizing small-town life; Carp is stifling and impoverished, and her descriptions can be borderline disdainful (one character’s mother has a “face like a pulpy fruit”; a gas station attendant’s hair is “slicked to one side, like weeds strapped to his forehead”). Oliver brings a high-concept, high-stakes conceit to Main Street USA, and the result is as uncomfortable as it is thrilling. Ages 14–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Mar.)
“Oliver’s novel is a wholly believable and compulsively readable tale of friendship, loyalty, survival, and courage.”
Jay Asher
Praise for Before I Fall: “This story races forward, twisting in a new direction every few pages, its characters spinning my emotions from affection to frustration, anger to compassion. You’ll have no choice but to tear through this book!”
ALA Booklist
Praise for Requiem: “Is there a theme more perfect for YA readers than choosing what you want from life rather than being told?”
Carolyn Mackler
Praise for Before I Fall: “Before I Fall is smart, complex, and heartbreakingly beautiful. Lauren Oliver has written an extraordinary debut novel about what it means to live—and die.”
The Horn Book
Praise for Delirium: “In a thick climate of fear, Oliver spins out a suspenseful story of awakening and resistance with true love at its core.”
New York Journal of Books
Praise for Delirium: “Oliver’s deeply emotional and incredibly well-honed prose commands the readers’ attention and captures their hearts. With a pulse-pounding tempo and unforeseen twists and turns, Lauren Oliver has opened the door on a fantastic new series; the second book can’t come soon enough.”
Praise for PANDEMONIUM: “If...you crave the heart-stopping action of the arena from The Hunger Games combined with a destined-to-be-doomed love story then this sequel is perfect for you!”
Children's Literature - Janice DeLong
Alternating voices tell this story of daring, death, and disclosure. Although four teens are intimately involved in the plot, only Heather and Dodge reveal their thoughts to readers through first-person narrative. The somewhat depressed town of Carp, New York, offers few opportunities for many families to make enough money to send their offspring to college, or allow them to buy cars, or create much in the way for entertainment for those teetering on the brink of adulthood. Perhaps such a lack of cash or incentive to improve one’s status created fertile ground for the evolution of the game of Panic. In this “game,” high school seniors, who had qualified through taking life-threatening risks compete for the rather hefty jackpot of sixty-seven thousand in cash. Anonymous “judges” inform contenders where the next challenge would take place and, sometimes, what would be expected when they arrived. Although each of those competing are, apparently, willing to risk life and limb to survive and stay in the game, readers are only aware of the desperation of Heather, Dodge, and Nat. The fourth of the friends, Bishop, is more of a bystander and supporter at each of the events. This fast-paced novel will keep readers turning pages and rooting for their favorite contender. Negative aspects of the book include that all of the challenges are illegal, human life is lost, home situations are depressing, and the language is gritty and grating. Reviewer: Janice DeLong; Ages 12 up.
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Janice M. Del Negro
Carp, New York, a “poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere,” has a long-standing tradition: Panic. Every summer, graduated high school seniors play the six-event survival contest, either as gamers or observers. There is only one winner and, after the judges get their cut, the winner gets the pot. This year the pot is $67,000. In this dead-end town, playing the game is the only way out. Progressively more dangerous contests eliminate all but the final three players: Heather, determined to shield her younger sister from their substance-abusing mother; Dodge, coldly planning revenge on the family of a previous Panic winner; and Ray, Dodge’s unknowing target, focused only on winning. Oliver, author of Before I Fall (HarperCollins, 2010/Voya April 2010) and the Delirium trilogy, sets the tone for the economic and emotional realities of her characters: “Now everything was over and done. It occurred to her that this was her life: vast and empty, like a coin dropping down a bottomless well.” The third-person narrative alternates between Heather and Dodge. Character development is minimal but the sharply arcing plot moves the action forward, the tension of one contest catapulting readers to the next. The swift pace serves the broad sweep of the novel and glosses over any idiosyncrasies in plot or motive. Shifting alliances within the game and the conflicting emotions of the players intensify the heady rush of tempting fate. Readers seeking the known thrill of a familiar roller coaster will be happy with this ride. Reviewer: Janice M. Del Negro; Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-01-04
Oliver makes a white-knuckle return to realism that will have readers up until the wee hours. They'll be desperate to learn who will win—and even more importantly, who will survive—Panic, a secret game that pits player against player in mental and physical challenges designed to push them to the breaking point. Heather Nill never planned to play, but with a broken heart and nothing to lose, once she's in, nothing is going to keep her from walking away with the $67,000 prize. Desperate to get out of Carp, N.Y., and determined to protect her sister Lily, Heather puts her life on the line time and again for a shot at a brighter future. Dodge Mason is playing for revenge, and he knows exactly how he is going to get it. After years of planning, nothing, not even the promise of new love, is going to stand in his way. Dodge is going to use the game to right an unforgiveable wrong, even if it kills him. Set in a town so run-down the grit is practically palpable, the book makes suspension of disbelief easy. Readers will understand how the deliberately built characters would and could do just about anything for a shot at getting out. The only thing more terrifying than the game itself is not getting the chance to play it. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years


Meet the Author

Lauren Oliver is the cofounder of media and content development company Glasstown Entertainment, where she serves as the president of production. She is also the New York Times bestselling author of the YA novels Replica, Vanishing Girls, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. The film rights to both Replica and Lauren's bestselling first novel, Before I Fall, were acquired by AwesomenessTV; Before I Fall has been made into a major motion picture.

Her novels for middle grade readers include The Spindlers, Liesl & Po, and the Curiosity House series, co-written with H. C. Chester. She has written one novel for adults, Rooms.

A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU's MFA program, Lauren Oliver divides her time between New York, Connecticut, and a variety of airport lounges. You can visit her online at www.laurenoliverbooks.com.

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Panic 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 108 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PANIC is a wonderfully written book that taps into an almost animalistic, uncontrollable need to chase something: change, a dream, a fresh start, hope, even revenge. PANIC tells the story of teenagers fearlessly giving their blood, sweat, tears, and lives, not just for the chance to win each challenge, but to hold onto the hope that it's not too late and anything is possible-- that the power to change their lives is just a summer away. Lauren Oliver writes their determination and seeming recklessness with a beautiful understanding that the desperation and fear of remaining hopelessly trapped is more powerful than the fear of risking their lives. I highly recommend it for all YA readers. The novel that will leave you marveling at the insanity and absurdity of their life-threatening game, while simultaneously understanding and empathizing with the desires that lead the characters to such choices.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think PANIC is my favorite of Lauren's books. First off, I'm happy this is a standalone, which forces the pace and plot to ramp up dramatically and then reach a satisfying conclusion by the end of the book. I also enjoyed that Panic wasn't overly focused on romance, though there were some romantic scenes, and that it stayed grounded in the very realistic, gritty small town of Carp. I grew to like both main characters, Heather and Dodge, very much. I was especially invested in Heather's story, her troubled relationship with her family, and the just-slightly-magical element of her friendship with Anne. It's easy to picture this book being made into a movie -- Lauren's descriptions are so vivid. The cold rush of quarry water, the adrenaline pumping, the danger, the other kids watching each challenge from the sidelines... all beautifully written and evocative. Highly recommended!
WorldsCollide More than 1 year ago
Thrilling, unpredictable, and full of secrets, Panic was a fantastic YA read. I really enjoyed reading this fantastic book. Absolutely wonderful! Panic was a game that came about from a group of bored teenagers. And, from there, it became a dangerous tradition that resulted in injuries and deaths. Every summer, the recent high school graduates complete in a series of challenges. Over the 4 years of high school, every student would contribute money to create the winning prize amount. The seniors would go through dangerous tasks, each eliminating more and more players, until the winner was chosen to win the money. All the while, two anonymous judges set the challenges and chose the winners. The whole situation that Lauren Oliver created was flawless. I could imagine that sort of thing happening in a small town full of bored teenagers. It was flawlessly built into a thrilling game that had me on the edge of my seat. The story is told through the main characters, Heather and Dodge, in alternating perspectives, so I'll focus on the narrators first. Heather was a tough chick. She didn't have the best situation at home and she wanted to win the money so that she could take care of her sister and get her away from her neglectful mother. She was strong, determined, and extremely dedicated to caring for her loved ones. I really liked her. She was definitely a worthy heroine. Dodge was a little sketchy at first. He wanted to win Panic as a means for revenge and he was quite ruthless about it at first. But, then his priorities shifted and it no longer became about winning, but about making sure he and his friends survived the games. I liked him. He was sweet and loyal to those he cared about. And he proved himself as a worthy character with what he did at the end. I thought he was great. The other two important characters were Bishop and Nat, Heather's friends. There were two separate romantic relationships: one between Bishop and Heather, and one between Dodge and Nat. Bishop was so sweet. I totally adored him. He was dedicated to protecting his loved ones and that meant he would do anything to protect Heather. He wasn't all sunshine, though, he had a dark side and quite a few secrets that I never saw coming. But, that only made me like him more. I thought he was wonderful. Nat, on the other hand, got on my nerves. She was mean. She lied, manipulated, insulted, and was somehow forgiven for it every time. I'm not sure why Dodge even liked her after the way she played him. She had her good moments, but I still didn't like her. The romance was very light. The story was really focused on the games, but the little bit of romance that did appear was sweet. The plot was well paced. I was kept interested the entire way through, though there were some parts that dragged a little. What I really love about Lauren Oliver's books is her ability to write so lyrically. Her writing itself was just gorgeous. The story was thrilling and the scenes of the challenges had me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed the story and I thought the ending was lovely. Panic was a wonderful YA read. It was thrilling, unpredictable, and full of surprises. I really enjoyed reading this fantastic book. Lovers of YA, this is a book  you'll want to check out. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Panic is an EXCEPTIONAL novel. It's more than just an examination of fear; it's also a powerful and sometimes disturbing look at what drives people, what connects them, and what helps them overcome the worst odds. This book is beautifully written, and, at times, heartbreaking. It winds its way under your skin as you read, until your pulse is pounding and you can't put it down. The ending took my breath away. Oliver's books always seem to go to a very dark place and then return, hopeful and redemptive. This is a great read and I can't recommend it enough!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how well you feel like you know the characters. A must read for any age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While PANIC is certainly a departure from the DELIRIUM trilogy, readers will NOT be disappointed. Lauren Oliver's trademark lyrical prose is still front and center and the plot is edge-of-your-seat exciting. I loved watching as Heather and Dodge's motivation for playing the game shifted from pure financial gain (for Heather) and pure revenge (for Dodge) to something MUCH more. I cannot recommend this book enough,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved it, it had me at the edge of my seat and it kept me turning pages. BUY THIS BOOK!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not what I'd expect after the delirium series but still above average.
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
A fan of each and every one of Lauren Oliver’s books to date, I was really excited to get my hands on Panic early. The blurb sounded really interesting. Danger! Intrigue! Romance! Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining, but something was just missing. Panic is a game born out of the boredom of small-town teenagers. It is not a dystopian novel and there are no supernatural elements about it, despite how people are shelving it on Goodreads. It’s a straight-up contemporary novel with a bit of mystery, a bit of action and a bit of romance. Sadly, I didn’t find myself caring that much about any of it. I found it difficult to connect with the characters. The tasks they were to complete often seemed just plain stupid and dangerous, so I didn’t even find myself on the edge of my seat that much. These kids chose to do this. No one forced them. They weren’t trying to survive. They were playing a game. This is why I had a difficult time caring about what happened to them as a result of it. The friendships were confusing and I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Heather and Dodge. The book gets bonus points and a 3-star rating because it was incredibly well-written. No, the ideas didn’t really work for me and the characters weren’t ones I could sympathize with, but the writing was good and the intrigue was there if you could bring yourself to connect with the characters. The characters were well-developed and complex, just not particularly likable to me. There were some twists and turns in the book, but I didn’t find them all that unpredictable. I guessed the major twist before it was revealed. Not Lauren’s best book in my opinion, but it wasn’t a total waste of time either. A younger crowd would likely be able to relate to the characters and appreciate it more than I did. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like THG you will like this book! Ex-highschool students battle it out for 67 grand. The book is told from the POV of Heather and Dodge. It is centered around them and their friends trying to win. Some of the book is centered around the personal life of Heather and Dodge. The book is a little violent,but is good for 13 years and up. Some 12 year olds can handle it, but it is better for teenagers. Overall, this was a great book and is worth a read
BookishThings More than 1 year ago
I think the premise of this book is interesting, but the characters left it feeling a little flat. I think the game of Panic is amazing. It’s dangerous, and scary as hell. It’s not something I’d ever participate in, but I can see why others would. I had to know what the next challenge was while I was reading. Each one is deadlier than the previous one. I was freaking out while reading some of them. Panic is told from the perspectives of Heather and Dodge. I had a hard time with them as narrators because I felt like they didn’t have much of a personality. They both have had hard lives, and ones that I wish wasn’t a reality. But the way they portrayed things felt like it lacked passion, I guess. I didn’t feel their anger, or anything. It’s like it just happened. I’m not sure that makes sense, but it does in my head. lol While the characters left me wanting more, the story is engaging.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loooooving this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PANIC, Oliver's third book is a gripping and extremely well-written YA. The plot follows a group of high school seniors through a summer and a game that could change their lives or take it. Oliver threads the novel well with multiple characters and intersecting points of view that keep an intense urgency and force you to read on. She holds the reader at a close distance to her characters and makes you care about their progression. I would recommend everything written by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book. I really enjoyed it. It was different in a really good way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard time putting it down, one of her best novels
Raina16 More than 1 year ago
I didn't think this book was that great, because it said it would be filled with scary challenges throughout the whole book. Halfway through there was about only two or three challenges done. I also thought the characters were boring. And the challenges weren't that scary to me. 
CarinaMV More than 1 year ago
Though this story was good I didn't really get connected to any of the characters. My favorite parts of the story were the games, the rest was just words to get through until the games happened again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Think THE HUNGER GAMES, but grounded in the recognizable reality of small-town USA...and the competition is completely voluntary. I'm just a few chapters in, and Lauren Oliver's latest novel is already discomforting and compulsively readable - as I've come to expect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oml xD I haven't listened to that song in FOREVER. Now I'm gonna have to go and listen to it ;3;
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heeeeerrrreeeee XD i chose this cuz i was listening to the Ballad of M<_>ona L<_>isa. xD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I sincerely recommend this book to those who like reading books about overcoming hardships and growing up. This book should be recommended for teens and young adults! All in all I thought this book was a beautiful narrative from the main characters' point of view.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to get connect with the characters at times but overall a really good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excerpt:<p>Oh show me your love, your love. Gimme more but it's not enough. Show me your love, your love. Before the world catches on. 'Cause there's always time for second guesses, I don't wanna know. If you're gonna be the death of me that's how I wanna go.<p><br>Tell me what you think it is. If you don't know, I'll tell you. Also, if you don't know it & you want the full song, go to collar res one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago