Panic

Lauren Oliver, Author
Lauren Oliver. Harper, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-201455-9
Reviewed on: 12/16/2013
Release date: 03/01/2014
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-1-4447-2306-9
Hardcover - 343 pages - 978-1-4447-2305-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4829-9228-1
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-6993-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-229984-0
Paperback - 408 pages - 978-0-06-229514-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4829-9229-8
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-1-4447-2303-8
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-06-201456-6
Hardcover - 343 pages - 978-1-4447-2302-1
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-06-228559-1
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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.)
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