Panic | Lauren Oliver | Book Review

I just finished Panic by Lauren Oliver and I knew I would have to pop onto the internet and tell all of my friends how they are not living their lives until they read this book — or basically I was having the same reaction to it that I have to almost ALL of Lauren Oliver’s books (Requiem notwithstanding). Thus far, I think that Panic is my absolute all time FAVORITE ever of Oliver’s books — although I think that it is tied with Liesl And Po because only someone with no heart could hate that book. Anyways, so Panic is a fantastic book despite that cover with all the hair, how does she even see? Is this a thing the youths are doing? Anyways. I just really love the hell out of Oliver’s latest and kind of want to tell all of you about it so you will go home and make your library order it or maybe even get yourself a copy BECAUSE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE LIFE WITHOUT THIS BOOK. Well, maybe I am being a tad overdramatic, but really, this is my new favorite.

Panic by Lauren Oliver | Good Books And Good Wine

Panic is set in upstate NY, in a county outside of Albany. I live in Central NY which is upstate and I used to spend a lot of time in the capital region. So, the setting of this book is very near and dear to my heart. In Lauren Oliver’s introduction letter to the book (it’s in the ARC, I am not sure if it will be in the finished copy), she talks about how the book is about desire, how that is the main theme. When I think back on Panic, I think yes, that makes sense, but I also think it’s a book about hope too. And well, you might just say that desire and hope are synonymous. I would kind of agree. You see, the plot is based around this game called Panic. Panic is a series of challenges that only graduating seniors are allowed to enter. Throughout the year everyone contributes to a pot for Panic and it reaches around $50,000. That is a lot of money for upstate NY, especially when you are not in an urban area like Buffalo or Rochester or Albany. Panic is a very, very dangerous game. Multiple people have died from participating in it. There are also judges for Panic, but they are anonymous. Oliver’s book centers on two point of view characters – Heather and Dodge, both contestants in Panic for different reasons. Frankly, I loved this book and the ways my nerves were tested throughout the various challenges and how much I really came to care about the main characters.

Heather enters as a contestant for Panic at first because her boyfriend leaves her for some other girl, so she just enters on a whim, which kind of sucks because that means she’s competing against her best friend Nat. However, she could really use the money. You see, Heather is not like other YA heroines. She’s not upper middle class. She doesn’t have a college fund. Her mom is pretty much a drug addict and I can’t remember if her dad died or took off. She’s got a little sister named Lily. The family lives in a trailer park. There’s not a whole lot of hope for Heather, but she’s like a lot of people I know in that she works damn hard and takes pride in her job, even if it’s not the most dignified job in the world. I mean, okay I will admit at first I was kind of irritated at the portrayal of people who live in trailers. Like not every family that lives in a trailer is trashy. Not every parent who has one does drugs. Yes, usually living in one means you are not upper middle class, but that doesn’t make you less of a person and I don’t know, I kind of got the feeling that Heather felt lesser because she wasn’t living in some house. And yeah, I did think her mom was a total annoying cliche. Oh well. On the whole, I really liked Heather. She’s good people overall. And I love how the storyline for her ended.

Dodge is the other main character. Unlike Heather, he has not lived in the same place all his life, but rather grew up all over. He’s very close with his sister Dayna, in fact she is the reason why he enters Panic. You see, Dana was basically paralyzed when she was in Panic because someone did something very bad to her. So, Dodge is in it for revenge. He doesn’t count on making new friends. He doesn’t count on finding a girlfriend. I will say, I did not quite connect as closely with Dodge’s chapters. I mean, he was great and I liked seeing how much he loved Dayna and how he was so protective and caring for her, while at the same time not totally patronizing her. However, I just I don’t know, I relate more to Heather, I suppose.

Initially, I was a bit nervous that I had to read all of Panic by Lauren Oliver and get it to my sister within like two days but you guys I totally blew through this book. You know how people call books “unputdownable” and are all cliche about it? I AM ABOUT TO GET ALL CLICHE ABOUT PANIC. I actually had a tough time putting this one down and would have read it all in one sitting if I didn’t have certain things to do. That Lauren Oliver, you guys, what CAN’T she do?  I don’t even know, I am just impressed as always.

Disclosure: Review Copy Provided By Publisher

Books by Lauren Oliver:
Before I Fall
Liesl And Po
The Spindlers

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I have yet to get my hands on Panic but Lauren Oliver is my auto-buy list. Glad to hear that it is as good as I hoped.

  2. I’ve actually just been introduced to Lauren Oliver’s books and recently blew through her Delirium series, so I am SUPER excited to read Panic. Girl has really got a way with words, doesn’t she?!

  3. You know what? I have yet to read a Lauren Oliver book. I’ll admit I am still a little wary of Panic, but your review makes it seem pretty exciting! I might just have to check it out.

  4. Yay! I’m happy to read that you loved Panic, too – nice to know that I wasn’t alone in my thoughts about it. I agree with you that the mother is a bit of a cliché, and that is, of course, a problem, but I hope that the fact that Heather is strong combats that to some extent. I also agree with you that I didn’t connect with Dodge as well. I felt like even though Lauren Oliver was writing from both of their perspectives, Heather was some how the primary character and he was secondary to her if that makes sense.

    By the way, on Wednesday, March 26th, Lauren Oliver is doing a Twitter chat at 2 pm. There isn’t a theme really, but you can ask her anything you want. Just make sure that you use the hashtag #LaurenOliverChat if you have the time to participate, so that the moderators (of which I’m one) can see your questions and share them.

  5. I LOVE Lauren Oliver. I am totally obsessed with Delirum and Before I Fall but I am so sad because I just didn’t feel this one. I totally wish I could have had the same love and enthusiasm as you but for some reason the ending didn’t click with me at all. I think the idea of this book is incredible and while I really liked the story for the most part some of the characters and the end pushed it into meh territory. It was a sad day 🙁 I will agree though that the writing does make you NOT want to put it down! WHAT is going to happen and who is going to win?!