For young adult fans during the last decade, Lauren Oliver is a household name. Her bestselling debut, Before I Fall, was adapted into a 2017 film, and subsequent novels—her Delirium trilogy and Replica duology, as well as standalones and forays into middle grade and adult—garnered widespread acclaim. Now, Oliver’s 2014 YA contemporary thriller Panic (HarperCollins) has been adapted into a 10-episode series by Amazon Prime Video, which is slated for release on Friday, May 28.
In the rural town of Carp, Tex., graduating high school seniors play an illicit, high-octane game for the opportunity to win thousands of dollars. When her home circumstances take a turn for the worst, Heather Nill (Olivia Welch) decides to play—despite her misgivings, as two teenagers died the previous year. But she’ll have to face plenty of other competitors, including her best friend Natalie Williams (Jessica Sula, Scream: The TV Series and Split), as well as Dodge Mason (Tony nominee Mike Faist), the new guy with a secret, and town villain Ray Hall (Ray Nicholson, Promising Young Woman). As Heather’s best guy friend Bishop Mason (Camron Jones, Grown-ish) attempts to dissuade her from participating, and local Sheriff Cortez (Enrique Murciano) endeavors to shut the game down, Heather must determine what she’s willing to do in order to win it—as well as figure out who’s trying to rig it.
In a notable turn for an author’s adaptation involvement, Oliver, the co-founder and president of production of Glasstown Entertainment, a media and content development company, created, adapted, and wrote each episode. She also served as executive producer alongside Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum of Roth/Kirschenbaum Films (Maleficent movies, Dolittle, the forthcoming Peter Pan & Wendy and The School for Good and Evil) and showrunner Adam Schroeder (Chronicle, Zoolander, and Clueless); Lynley Bird of Glasstown, Alyssa Altman of Roth/Kirschenbaum, and W. Mark McNair (The House with a Clock in Its Walls and True Blood) served as co-executive producers, with Ginger Sledge (Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Dark Places) as producer.
Fans of the book will note narrative changes in this adaptation, including a remarkable revamp of Ray Hall’s character. Oliver told PW, “I was incredibly excited to return to Panic and re-explore the town of Carp, the game, and the characters in light of a changed and changing world, and with the help of an incredible cast who helped me find new dimensions to the story.”
“Panic is a book I have loved deeply for years,” said Rosemary Brosnan, v-p and editorial director of Quill Tree Books at HarperCollins, who edited the book. “It’s gritty and suspenseful, and Lauren Oliver’s writing is, as always, unparalleled. It also brilliantly explores questions about friendship, families, and small-town life. I’ve emptied my calendar on May 28, because I just can’t wait to see the book come to life on the screen!”