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Author: Lauren Oliver

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Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014

Material: hard cover

Summary: All year long, everyone helps build the pot for the upcoming round of Panic. Played in the summer, seniors can take part in this series of competitions where contestants face their deepest fears. When someonee shows a hint of fear, she or he is disqualified from the games. The final remaining competitor wins the money from the pot that has been building for a year. This year, high school seniors Heather and Dodge will play.

Heather plays for the money. With a drug-addicted mother, sole responsibility of her younger sister, and a fresh breakup with her cheating boyfriend, winning the pot is the only way for Heather to escape town and find a brighter future. For Dodge, Panic is a chance for revenge and redemption. After his sister was paralyzed from the waist down in a car crash in the final round of Panic, Dodge lost his best friend. He also knows a fellow competitor had hijacked the car his sister drove. Throughout the games, both Heather and Dodge discover that the town of Carp holds more than it first appears; with chances for friendship, happiness, and even love, hearts will be mended as Panic rules. In this YA novel, both of the main characters alternate telling the story. This book for older audience offers a middle grade reading level for reluctant or struggling readers.

Type of Reading: independent reading, remedial reader

Recommended Age: read together: 13 and Up; read yourself: 10 and Up

Interest Level: 13 and Up

Reading Level: 5.2

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: I am an avid reader, so I liked that unlike so many books, no character was perfectly good or perfectly evil. Heather, Dodge, and the other characters made bad choices and willingly did the wrong thing, but that made it is much easier to connect to them. Even their backstories give readers insight to everyday, realistic problems. But I did not like how the story began. You don't clearly understand how Panic works until later in the book, so the first few chapters were confusing.

Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Pros: Realistic events and characters drive this story. The suspense that comes with being afraid and wanting to know how something ends add to making this a fast-paced read.

Cons: While there is not a lot of sexual content, there are scenes where drugs and drinking are present. Readers should be mature enough to realize that the various parts of Panic should never be recreated in real life due to the danger and crime involved. There are also several other serious issues present throughout the book such as running away, illegally keeping wild animals, and breaking into houses.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. Because Panic is not part of a series, I believe that it could serve as both an ideal gift or as a book that one would check out from a library.

If You Liked This Book, Try: Before I Fall, The Delirium Trilogy, or Vanishing Girls (all by Lauren Oliver); We Were Liars by E. Lockhart; Half Life series by Sally Green THE SCORPIO RACES   THRONE OF GLASS   GAMER GIRL

Educational Themes: Panic would be an interesting selection for a book club. Given some of the events and the depth of the characters, there are opportunities to talk about tougher subjects, choices, and risky behavior.

Notes: A Reading Tub® volunteer submitted this review. She borrowed the book from their local library.

Literary Categories: Fiction - middle grade, friendship, family, realistic fiction

Date(s) Reviewed: August 2015

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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