Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic_HC_JKT_des4.inddPanic by Lauren Oliver


“Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.
Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.
For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.”

Jen’s Review

Ever since reading Before I Fall and Delirium, Lauren Oliver has become one of my “Must Read Authors”. If she writes it, I’ll read it. So, when I heard she had a new book coming out, I went bonkers. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Panic. And once I did, I was sooo excited! So excited, in fact, I felt a little panicky. I panicked over Panic! 😉

Overall, the freak out was worth it. Panic was entertaining, suspenseful, and ahh-ddicting. It was also scary. I don’t know how many times I was screaming at Heather, Nat, and Dodge to bow out of the Evel Knievel-like game. I was so scared one of them would take on one of the daredevil tasks and fail–like, FAIL. Like, die-fail…


…No, I’m not gonna tell you if any of them did kick the bucket. You’ll have to read it to find out.

Besides the action-packed, nail biting stunts, Panic also had an emotional backbone that sucked the reader in and kept them invested. It was hard not to care about the characters and cheer them on, even though you knew only one of them could win the big game and take home the cash prize. Heartache, anger, hope, spirit…Panic had it all!

Now, I know some people may think this deadly plot isn’t believable. Personally, I was able to accept it. I’ve known small town teenagers who’ve participated in life threatening stunts. Even my own dad, who grew up in a small Kansas city, used to accept ridiculous dares that could’ve gotten him killed (thanks Dad for risking my existence!).

My only main complaint about Panic had to do with the character, Dodge. At times, I absolutely loved him. He was gritty, determined, and brave (crazy brave), yet also vulnerable, even sweet. But then he would betray those endearing attributes with a streak of violence or hate, or both. I just didn’t like that. I understand how some characters possess a dark side, but Dodge’s dark side was too dark for me. It made me wonder what type of man he would become. Loving husband or vicious criminal? I also felt his attraction to Nat was on the shallow side. I know a lot of guys, especially teenage guys, are only attracted to a girl because of what she looks like. However, as a lead character with so many heart wrenching layers, I expected more from Dodge.

But, don’t let those small nitpicks stop you from reading this. It’s worth it, especially if you’re looking for an intense, moving, slightly psychotic story.

To read more about Panic, click here!

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

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Summer Reads – Part 3

With the long Labor Day weekend over, it’s time to face the dreaded fact that summer is coming to an end. Here in Colorado, that means it’s time to pack away the shorts and tanks and pull out the fleece and beanies. Boo, hoo 😦 Okay, mini rant: Why do I live in Colorado? I’m not a fan of snow, ice or general frostiness. I’m not even a soup or hot cocoa type gal. I seriously need a beach house to run off to when the first snow creeps over the Rocky Mountains and consumes the Denver metro area. Snow moves in, I move out!

Okay, rant over. Time to get to my third and final list of Summer Reads.

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

9680718If you like stories that incorporate Greek mythology (Starcrossed, Percy Jackson), then you’re sure to enjoy Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Convenant series. Half-Blood, the first book, has a fast pace, plenty of action, and a kick-ass protagonist, Alex. At first, I was afraid Alex’s flippant, strong-willed and reckless attitude was going to annoy me, but she ended up being endearing and fresh. And let’s not forget the main heartthrob, Aiden. He isn’t too shabby either (cue girly sigh). If you enjoyed Armentrout’s Lux series, then Half-Blood will be right up your alley.

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

For a full synopsis, click here.

Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Fire flowerI didn’t waste a second to dive into Half-Blood’s sequel, Pure. Although Alex remains a rebellious, likable turd (don’t ask me how being a “likable turd” is possible, but here it is), she grows up and thinks before acting. The story itself remains interesting and is evolving at a good pace. I’m still in love with Alex’s forbidden love, Aiden, but my heart has softened towards her other boy-toy, Seth. I guess as long as she doesn’t become a “Bella” over the two hotties, I’ll be content with whichever one she ends up with…At this point, at least. I still have a few books to go in the series. Who knows what’s going to happen. I guess I better go get Deity and find out!

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

For a full synopsis, click here.

Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, and Raven by Lauren Oliver

16177805These three short stories were a nice accessory to Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series. In them, we delve further into the lives of Lena’s best friend, Hana, her mom, Annabel, and her fellow rebel, Raven. The writing was solid and fluid, and each story was engaging and intense. I had no problem finishing all three in one sitting. My only suggestion is to read these soon after you finish Requiem (final book in the Delirium series). I waited over six months, so it took me awhile to reconnect with each of these women and recall who they were and the role they played in Lena’s life.

If you’re a fan of Delirium, then you’ll like these. And if you haven’t read or heard of DeliriumWhat are you waiting for? Go read it! It’s a great series.

Jen’s Rating

4 Star

For a full synopsis, click here.

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

12383869I’m torn about this book and the rest of the Chemical Garden Trilogy. I thought the writing was beautiful, the concept intriguing, and the characters vivid. But I also felt it was slow and slightly repetitive at times. Also, I don’t mind books that make me feel like someone is stepping on my chest, but I don’t like it when it’s an ENTIRE series. The protagonist, Rhine, was in a constant fog, always miserable, always silently swallowing her unfair predicaments, always halfheartedly fighting…It was frustrating after three books. I wanted her to BREAK OUT! Yell! Punch someone! Spit in Vaughn’s face and tell him to go to hell!

I know, I know. That wasn’t her character. But still. I wanted Rhine to do something other than bite her tongue and wait…wait..wait…and then subtly strike. It just wasn’t satisfying for me as a reader to watch her willingly take punch after punch until the bitter end.

Nonetheless, I did appreciate the story itself and I did get a little weepy towards the end, so it was GOOD. I’d definitely pick up another Lauren DeStefano book and give it a shot.

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

For a full synopsis, click here.

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington 


Honestly? I was bored with this book. Every few pages, I would realize I’d zoned out and have to go back and re-read the paragraph/page I had just read. I didn’t make a connection with the protagonist, Violet, and I thought the two male leads were cliché (one amazingly hot “good” boy, and one amazingly hot “bad” boy who wants to be good). I was also bothered by Violet’s dad’s neglectfulness. It quickly became clear that the author, Jessica Shirvington, had to write him into the story, but she didn’t really want him there, so she took the easy road and made him a workaholic.

I also didn’t care for the way the Shirvington set up her conflicts/resolutions. It made the whole book feel like a handful of short stories squeezed into one big story. A major event would happen, a fight would ensue, and a settlement of sorts would be made. Repeated. Over and over. Event, fight, settlement. Event, fight, settlement…I know most books do that, but this one just felt so obvious. And it made the whole thing feel like it would never end; almost like watching Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King (slow fade out, black screen…Psyche! Not over! Gotcha!)

Needless to say, this is one series I don’t plan on continuing. However, if you are looking for an entertaining read in the angels department, then check out Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, or Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly. Those definitely kept my attention!

Jen’s Rating

2 Star

For a full synopsis, click here.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

16101128Two thumbs up! And if I had more, I’d raise those too. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey was recommended to me by a fellow blog follower (THANK YOU, gettyhesse1!). To be honest, I was reluctant to read it at first because I’ve never been a fan of the whole aliens-take-over-the-world synopsis. However, within one page, my fears evaporated. This was one of those books I didn’t want to put down, but did just so I could savor it longer.

When you hear the word “aliens” you instantly think UFO’s and green laser guns and bald men with shiny black eyes. Yancey’s take on aliens is different. Without giving anything away (I despise spoilers), his version of an alien invasion is far more devastating than any scene from Independence Day or War of the Worlds. And not because there are horrific things like giant fireballs melting major cities and laser beams turning people to ash. No, no, no. His method is far more meticulous and logical, and frighteningly believable. What makes it even better/worse is that Yancey sucks you in emotionally from the start. He uses simple, everyday things–like a girl’s crush on a boy at school–to stab you in the heart. You constantly think, “If this really happened, what would I do?” (Give up or get up?).

Another reason I enjoyed the The 5th Wave was because it helped improve my own writing. I LOVE it when a book does that for me. Sometimes it’s an author’s style, or their imagination, or their characters that shake me up and inspire me to do better. And Yancey definitely did that. He knocked down my writer’s block and motivated me to “get up”.

I literally read the last three chapters of The 5th Wave as slowly as possible, just so it wouldn’t end. But it did, and now I must wait until May 2014 for its sequel to be released. AH!

I’m envious of those who haven’t read it yet. You’re in for a treat!

Jen’s Rating

5 Star

For a full synopsis, click here.

So that’s it folks! Those are all the books I read this summer. I would have to say that out of ALL of them, I enjoyed Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants, Kiera Cass’s The Selection and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave the most. In case you missed my other Summer Reads, click here for Part 1, or here for Part 2.

Check back often for more reviews as we head into the fall! There’s bound to be many. And if you have any suggestions for my “to-read” list, let me know here!