Book Talk: PANIC by Lauren Oliver

My book talks are coming at you from a librarian, not a reviewer. You won’t find me talking about style or craft, why I think this could’ve been better or what worked or didn’t work. I only do book talks on books I liked and want other people to know about. So if it’s here I probably think it won’t injure your brain if you read it.

Every year the seniors play the game, and no one talks. Because it’s Panic.

The jackpot for Heather Nil’s senior year is $67,000 With that money she can leave the trailer park behind and get her little sister away from their less-than-enthusiastic mother. In short – she can escape Carp, a town so small that everyone knows everyone and nobody amounts to much.

Dodge is playing too, and determined to win for reasons that have nothing to with money. Years before his older sister was a finalist in Panic, and now she’s crippled, while the younger brother of the player responsible for her shriveling legs will be facing off with Dodge in this year’s games.

People have died playing Panic. People have lost limbs playing Panic. And people who have won Panic don’t always get the fairy tale ending they were expecting along with the cash prize. A series of escalating dares anonymously judged eliminate the players, whittling the seniors down to a handful: Heather, who wants a better future for herself and her sister. Nat, her best friend who wants a chance at a modeling job that won’t involve her having to degrade herself. And Dodge, who only wants revenge.

Struggling with the danger involved and weighing her conscience against a chance to escape, Heather knows better than to talk to the police when something goes horribly wrong.

Because it’s Panic. And if you talk, you’re out.

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