Lauren Oliver’s latest young adult novel provides a peek at the desperation that is sometimes felt by teens lacking control of their lives. Panic takes place in a poverty-stricken small town—the sort of town the kids all want to escape. But it usually takes money to escape, which is why the graduating seniors are so willing to take place in the high stakes game of Panic. No one’s quite sure how the game got started, but Panic has life and death consequences. One of those consequences is why Dodge is participating this year even though he’s an outsider. As for Heather, she’s seeking a better life as her mom and stepdad spiral in addiction. Heather and Dodge were well drawn as were the supporting characters so that their small town angst was completely understandable. And Panic seemed exactly like the sort of game these kids would play even as the cops tried to stop it. The town and its atmosphere really becomes a character too in Panic with Oliver’s descriptions of the diner, trailer park, and Meth Row. The challenges set by the Panic judges are nicely intertwined with the everyday lives of the characters.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.