I finally got around to reading Panic after being burned by the “-ium” series (Delirium, Requiem, and Pandemonium…actually I don’t even think I ever even finished the series, something that shocks me. I can’t not read a book I start (usually), but man, were they baaaaddddd. Anyways, I have fond memories of Before I Fall and I saw some decent reviews here and elsewhere of Panic, I thought I’d go for it. It helped too, that I’m looking for books for myself and a reluctant teen reader that I’m going to be tutoring this summer, I thought to myself, “Let’s check this book out, shall well?” As per usual, myself agreed with me and I hit it up on Amazon.
Panic is a game/ritual that has been occurring in the small town of Carp for many years. Only seniors can participate after graduation and it involves betting, a semi-large pot for the winner (sorry 60K isn’t going to have me risking my life any time soon) and dangerous challenges. Most of the challenges are individual timed challenges but the final one is a game of chicken with the remaining players called Joust. Our main character Heather knew that her best friend Nat was going to participate, but she surprises herself by entering; this is partially fueled by anger after being blind sighted by a break up but mostly because she needs the money to support herself and her sister. Another character, Dodge enters the contest like everyone else for the money but he’s also nursing his own personal vendetta as well as a rather large crush on the beautiful Natalie. Finally there’s Bishop, he’s not participating but he’s doing his best to help his friends Heather and Nat stay alive. This foursome sees their alliances grow and shrink as the game goes on, romance blossoms amidst the danger and blah, blah, blah. That’s kind of meaner than I mean it to be, I liked the book, I just didn’t love the book. I really, really didn’t love it.
I was happy that this wasn’t a terrible book, but the characters were a little flat to me and I don’t think I really cared about any of them. Heather’s the stereotypical poor kid with a shitty mom and a little sister she needs to take care of. Natalie is the beautiful, yet somewhat broken girl. Dodge is the guy who has a bone to pick and Bishop is the best guy friend who constantly gets described as having his hair sticking up out of the side of his head EVERY SINGLE TIME HE’S DESCRIBED and that’s apparently an endearing quality. Invest in a brush, dude. I won’t go into any great detail here but there’s a part that involves tigers…and even that wasn’t exciting to me, there was no real danger and the way other characters react to this, we might as well have been talking about the guinea pigs.
I think I talked myself out of liking the book as I wrote this review but that wasn’t the case while reading it. I liked it, I just wanted to like it more because there are some really interesting things that could be mined here. For example, who invented Panic? How do they pick the judges? Who is picking the judges? If Panic has been going on “forever” in Carp, there have to be adult parents who would be familiar with it…that’s kind of an interesting path that could be explored…All in all, it was a good book that had the potential of being a great book.