Book Talk: Panic

8:30:00 PM

What are you afraid of, exactly?

I've had a crap day, and I thought that rather than sleeping, crying, or cursing about it, I would try and channel my energies a bit more talking about something good. So let's get into it.

I picked up this audiobook because Lauren Oliver wrote it, and I tend to really like things that Lauren Oliver wrote. But after I read the synopsis, I knew this novel was going to be fast paced, intense, twisty - and I was right.

Panic was so much more than I expected it to be! I think I did this novel a disservice by believing it would be another summer-adventure-gone-awry, but that's not Panic at all. The premise felt unlike anything I had read recently, and I was completely captivated by it. 

Oliver skillfully addresses the issues that characterize young adult novels in a way that doesn't feel contrived. Graduating seniors Heather, Dodge, Bishop, and Natalie are each affected by the game of Panic while they try to figure out what their future will look like and what it is, exactly, that they are afraid of.

Oliver's world building has long been one of my favorite aspects of her novels, and Panic was no exception - her depiction of the familial and financial struggles of growing up in a dead end town brought some diversity to what is, in my experience, a genre rooted heavily in the middle class.  

Through the lens of fear, everything seems a little edgier, a little darker, a little more dangerous - and I felt all of those things as I listened to this book. Fear is a bizarre emotion - it's universal, and yet specific to each person: what one person fears, another may not. Even listening to the characters describe their experiences elicited a feeling of anxiety. It was a visceral, emotional experience. I was so engrossed in the story that I sat in my car in the parking lot so I didn't have to stop listening! 

As the competitors of Panic are confronted with their worst fears and pushed to their breaking point, they must decide if playing the game is worth it. For these characters, it's not just about the money - a $67,000 jackpot - or about the bragging rights - it's about freedom, and new beginnings, and revenge, and ultimately, it's about proving to themselves and to everyone else that they are fearless.

Panic has already been optioned for film, and Lauren Oliver is writing the screenplay! I'm super excited to see how this book is adapted for the big screen. Additionally, you can listen to Lauren Oliver narrate the first three chapters of Panic on her website. Have you read Panic? Would you participate in the game? And what are you afraid of? Let me know in the comments! 

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