New Young Adult Fiction: Panic – Lauren Oliver

Anything new by Lauren Oliver is worth a look but when one of my colleagues called this “Hunger Games in your own backyard” I was tantalized. In this grim, exciting cautionary tale, Oliver marries two hot trends in YA—dystopic adventure and realistic fiction.

 Here’s Schuler Books YA enthusiast and blogger Krys Tourtois’ take: “Nothing ever happens in Carp except for Panic. Panic is a game played by the graduating seniors every summer; a game meant to test the limits both mentally and physically. For years every student pays into the pot and then as seniors they are entitled to play, if they choose. This year’s pot is $67,000 and everyone dreams of what they can do with the money. Heather and Dodge both have very different reasons for joining Panic….Everyone who plays learns something vital and carnal about themselves, but for two people from very sad home lives Panic is only another layered metaphor for themselves. Panic is suspenseful, pulse-pounding, and gripping. It’s the type of book that sweeps you up and carries you through without realizing that you have gone anywhere. It’s a landslide of a book; a cascade, a rushing river. I read this in two sittings and couldn’t put it down. There’s a beautiful blend of both characterization and dramatic narration and the reader has no idea what is coming next. It’s the best type of quick action suspense book and I can’t recommend it high enough. 5 out of 5 stars.”

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…. Oliver brings a high-concept, high-stakes conceit to Main Street USA, and the result is as uncomfortable as it is thrilling.”
Publishers Weekly recently included Panic on their list of 18 Books to Watch For in 2014, a list that includes heavyweights like Sue Monk Kidd, E.L. Doctorow, Lorrie Moore, Colson Whitehead, Michael Cunningham and Joshua Ferris. It’s also one of the ten LibraryReads picks for March.

Panic (9780062014559) by Lauren Oliver. $17.99 hardcover. 3/4/14 on sale.

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