Sparkling water fanatic. Lover of random crap. Goodreads member curious to see if the grass really is greener on the other side.
Compare Panic to one sorority/fraternity hazing gone horribly wrong, and you'll know what you're getting into before you pick up the book.
Funny thing is, I started out noting a lot of positives (all of which were turned on their head). I was in love with the refreshing normalcy of the characters' behavior.
1. Having beers out by the water
2. Bumming around at the mall
3. One of the girls got tired of waiting for the guy to kiss her so she asked him straight up if he was going to.
A few pages later... HAH. JOKE'S ON ME. THESE KIDS ARE ALL WHACKED.
I didn't even hate that, though.
This isn't going to be the book for everyone. It's dark. It's contemplative. It explores character behavior outside of the actual game itself. Either you'll kind of appreciate what the author is trying to do, or you'll want to throw your book at the wall. Neither reaction is wrong, me thinks.
I actually didn't mind the characters. I don't even think I minded how it got all wtf-ery up in the place toward the end. Roaming tigers and games of chicken? Ohhhhkaaaayyy. These things will certainly make for a crazy movie version. Is it sad that I'd almost hope the movie is taken off-kilter and done in the style of the cult classic Heathers? I'd almost want the scene at the end with the tiger and the head pat to mirror Winona Ryder pulling out that darn cigarette at the end of Heathers (Yay! Let's Watch it Again! - be prepared for language) No, the book and movie do not have the same ending, so I'm not spoiling anything. You're safe.
That's not to say that there weren't some entertaining (if bizarre) moments, but this was not as entertaining of a book as I'd hoped it would be. Maybe I've watched one too many made-for-t.v. movies where kids jump off water towers, play road chicken, or do one of a thousand other things for the sake of money, notoriety, a sense of belonging, admission into a secret society, etc. Most of those movies were more entertaining than this book was.
Do I think Lauren Oliver had a good idea in exploring the mindset of what drives people to do what they do? Yes. Do I think we could have wrapped this entire story in about 50 less pages? AB-SO-LUTE-LY.
Where Oliver does succeed (as far as I'm concerned) is in creating unusual and interesting characters. I know that some people hated the characters, but I didn't. This is what Oliver does. I saw it in the Delirium series, and I saw it here. My complaints are rarely with her characters, but more about the story they are encased in. It just kind of sucked how things hit the downward spiral and I felt sucked into something almost un-redeemable. By the end, the game was out of control, and I hated that I was questioning everyone's motives and decisions. I didn't want to have to go there, especially after finding the characters so refreshing in the first half. It went dark, but dark had become a parody (which is why I'm rooting for the Heathers-esque twist), which I didn't fully appreciate.
Yet, I think I kind of liked the book. It's just funny how I had to even stop to decide whether or not I liked it in the first place. Usually, you just know one way or the other. This time, I wasn't so sure.
Who I would recommend the book to : People who like watching other people struggle with basic life decisions. You're going to be witnessing each character deal with their own demons, and you might be sitting in the dark with them as the game unfolds.
Who I would not recommend the book to : Anyone who wants non-stop action, anyone who hates when books meander somewhat in the middle for the sake of character exploration, or anyone who needs to love the decisions that their characters make. Not everything is always as it seems upfront.
This book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.