Panic – Lauren Oliver

Panic – Lauren OliverTitle: Panic by Lauren Oliver
Publishing Info: March 4, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 18, 2015
Related Posts: Annabel (Delirium #0.5), Requiem (Delirium #3), Before I Fall, Vanishing Girls, Broken Things

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.
Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.
For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.


It took me a while to finally pick up PANIC and when I did, I actually opted for the audio instead of the physical book that I’d had sitting on my shelves since March. Of last year. It wasn’t even the book so much as that feeling where you find a favorite author and then things start to be… less magical. I absolutely loved DELIRIUM, didn’t feel as strongly about PANDEMONIUM, and felt a little disappointed by REQUIEM. I recently read VANISHING GIRLS and was hoping to find that magic of DELIRIUM again but it still fell a little short for me, (I’m not a middle grade reader so I haven’t read any of her MG works either) so naturally I was a bit on the fence about my enthusiasm for PANIC… and sadly I was right to hesitate.

PANIC wasn’t a bad read for me but it didn’t quite go the way that I had hoped. From the book’s synopsis, I was under the impression that PANIC was mostly a thriller and yes, there were definitely some thrilling and action-packed events throughout the book, but I actually found myself bothered by how much the book delved into the personal lives of each character. I know, I know, that sounds absolutely ridiculous. Who doesn’t want character development? Well, it’s not that I didn’t want it but the issues that each characters had and some of their current life situations ended up shifting the focus to really dig into personal backgrounds and the drama surrounding their current situations felt like it took away from the thrill of the game of Panic. I went into the book expecting so much thriller and less contemporary BUT I should have known that wouldn’t be the case since every other Lauren Oliver book I’ve read digs very deeply into each character and presents the reader with some very serious issues. This was definitely a personal preference/expectation for me.

I did enjoy the concept of Panic. I loved the adventure and suspense that it added to the book overall and how each character really was pushed to their limits (and beyond)  because of it. I was, however, a bit skeptical about the whole concept. The town is fairly small and although 12,000 people is still a lot, I feel like the cops should have been able to catch someone in the act of participating in Panic, especially when most of the entire senior class congregated to watch/join in and they visited the same spots from year to year. Some of the challenges also felt extremely intense. I guess that is the whole point of Panic but since I was already questioning things, I began to question those as well.

I was really all over the place character-wise. I didn’t really feel strongly about anyone and was actively turned off by others. I wasn’t a huge fan of Heather and I really didn’t care for Natalie. I just didn’t find myself connecting with them much at all. I started feeling like I was okay with things and then something popped up that really bothered me so I really ended up a bit disappointed overall.

I think I’m just really disappointed that this book still wasn’t the Lauren Oliver magic that I was hoping it would be. I did finish and felt… all right with it but it felt like more of a disappointment than a book I enjoyed. It seems more like one of those cases where several personal preferences come into play because I have seen a lot of excellent reviews for PANIC but this one just didn’t do it for me and I’m starting to feel less of a pull to read Lauren Oliver’s books.


I borrowed the audiobook of PANIC from my local library (I love their audiobook selection) and overall, it was a good performance. Sarah Drew (who also plays April on Grey’s Anatomy, for those who don’t know) is the narrator for all of Lauren Oliver’s YA books so far, PANIC included, and she does a really great job of narrating. I don’t always like her voices for the characters and I don’t always think the timbre of her voice fits the main character so that was a little hard for me at times. I think she was a great selection for BEFORE I FALL but I didn’t think she was a great Heather for PANIC and I don’t think I’d want to listen to her narrate the Delirium trilogy. I think she does do a good job with narration though and I always enjoy the way she narrates, even if I don’t always love her voice for that specific character.


“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!



Heather // Character Obsessions: Her sister, thriving, Panic.
I didn’t really enjoy Heather’s character… She was okay but at times she was a bit too much for me and I got easily irritated. I think part of it was that everything felt so forced with her. Her character didn’t seem natural and really the things that she experienced felt over the top (for what I was expecting when I started reading the book). Maybe if I didn’t have expectations, it would have been totally different.


Kept Me Hooked On: YA thrillers. This definitely DID have some thrilling moments and I really appreciated the various things that the characters had to go through.
Left Me Wanting More: Suspense. I was really missing the suspense in this book. I think the reason that I really didn’t enjoy the more personal and realistic fiction developments were because they totally STOPPED the suspense that I was feeling. I would have loved to be on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

PANIC didn’t do it for me. I really wished for so much more and I feel like that magic is gone. The plot was okay, characters were okay, action was okay, but nothing ever felt GREAT.



(Click the cover to see my review!)


Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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10 thoughts on “Panic – Lauren Oliver

  1. Olivia Roach

    I’ve never actually heard of that before – when a book digs a little too deep into the background of each character so it is more like a distraction from the main plot. I suppose it can happen, and I am sorry to hear that you haven’t been able to love a book as much as your first read by Lauren Oliver. I hope you can get to that point soon 🙂

  2. Kj

    I’ve never picked up any of her books – I’ve read the first few chapters of Delirium but never really felt it. I was hoping this book might change my mind – but it doesn’t sound like it. Thanks for the review. – Kj

  3. Audrey Greathouse

    Oh man 🙁 I’m sorry that it didn’t live up to your expectations, but I guess it is good you sat on it for a while and knew to be skeptical of your enthusiasm. It’s hard to see the author of a good book come up with more stories that just don’t suit you as well.

  4. Kay @ It's a Book Life

    I read Panic when it first came out because it was Lauren Oliver, and just like you i wasn’t a fan. It was a let down. I too thought it would be thrilling, but I was anything but. Sorry it disappointed you as well.

  5. Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

    It’s interesting, because I JUST started this on audio today! I’ve seen a lot of lackluster reviews for it, but I’ve found myself really enjoying it so far (perhaps because I already knew going in that it was less of a “thriller” than a contemporary).

  6. SERIESous Book Reviews

    I’ve only read the Delirium Trilogy by her and was very, very disappointed in how it all ended (it’s actually inspired me to create my blog and review series so that people wouldn’t have to experience what I experienced reading Delirium–which is disappointment in how it all ends).

    I still plan on reading Before I Fall (since it is a standalone) because I’ve only heard fantastic things. Panic is on my TBR but not very high up there. It’s going to be one of those books I pick up randomly because it is available when I need a new book.

  7. Amber Elise

    Yeah I keep walking past this book at the library because I know that nothing will amount to Delirium. I REFUSE to read Requiem because I can’t handle what I know will happen. Nope cant’ do it.

    Sad to hear that this one doesn’t bring back the magic. Thanks for sharing though!

  8. Tanya

    I’ve yet to read anything by Lauren Oliver, although I own the Delirium trilogy and Before I Fall. From what I’ve read from others, you either love or hate her writing. I remember Panic being huge last summer but it seems like there were a lot of mixed reviews. Eventually I will get around to reading a Lauren Oliver book, but I admit I’m a little wary just based on the many reviews I’ve seen.

  9. Jacque

    Great review! I definitely agree with your thoughts on the Delirium series. I loved book 1, book two wasn’t as good, and the end of Requiem was serious disappointment. I did, however, enjoy Panic. Sorry to hear it didn’t live up to your expectations.

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