Bookworm: 'Panic' makes a good guilty pleasure book

Kathleen Duncan

June 25, 2014 at 1:25 a.m.

   Blaine Hefner for The Victoria Advocate

One night, it's jumping off a cliff. Another, it's firing a gun, being kidnapped or buried under spiders.

Panic - the game that tests the limits of every player's ability to stay calm in the face of danger.

In every test is a chance to evade death, arrest or dismemberment, and to be the last one to do so is key.

That's where the game got it's name, after all: The last one to panic wins.

In small town Carp, where there is little to do and almost no way out of the stifling small-town life, every year, one graduating senior wins money when they are the last one standing.

Their final summer of high school life holds all the promise of the future. They play Panic to throw it all away or win everything they ever dreamed.

Heather never thought of herself as someone who would compete in Panic. Then, on a passionate whim and with impressively determined stubbornness to prove something to herself (and possibly everyone else), she joins the game at the last moment.

Dodge is different. He joins with careful calculation and a lot of planning. He has never been afraid; he always knew he'd play. Dodge has secrets that will push him through until the end - win or lose, live or die.

Everyone playing Panic has a reason. Pride, money, love, revenge, jealousy or even boredom.

When the game is done, it seems unclear what each player will be left with, or if they'll even be alive to be left with anything at all.

"Panic" by Lauren Oliver is a gripping and fast-paced young adult novel. Easily consumed in one sitting, it's a great escape without much depth or complexity.

It won't challenge you or make you think, but like your favorite guilty pleasure after a long day, you'll enjoy every little bit of it until it's gone.

Kat Duncan is the photo and video editor at the Advocate. She loves to read, travel, run and play with her pup, Panda. Chat with her about books on Twitter @Kat Duncan_VA.



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