Books in the Middle: Reading for Middle School

Our focus is on books middle school students might like to read and topics pertaining to books for these students, and we are giving recommendations. Teachers, librarians and middle school students are the contributors to this blog. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

What lengths will you go to face your fears? April 5, 2014

Title: Panic

Author: Lauren Oliver

Genre: Realistic, Mystery

Overall, this is a fantastic, cleverly-written and intense story of a game called Panic. At the beginning of the text, many characters are introduced, but once you get further into the piece, it makes it easier to put all the story lines and relationships together.

Panic is a secret game that has occurred for many years in the poor town of Carp, basically stemming from the boredom of nothing to do. Seniors are the only ones that can enter the game, which follows a series of death-defying activities and games where the last man standing is proclaimed the winner of cash collected from each student at Carp High (each paying a $1 a day during the entire school year) and the title of Panic champ.

imgres-2Each chapter follows the storyline of the various characters intertwined focused specifically on Heather and Dodge and we first begin with Heather. After having her found out that her boyfriend cheated on her, she decided she didn’t have anything to lose and joined in on the games. Their first competition to show their seriousness was Opening Jump taking place the day after their high school graduation where they were expected to face their fear and jump off a cliff into the nighttime abyss.

Dodge is the next character we meet who has a specific agenda as to why he wanted to join in on Panic, which had to do with his sister’s accident that was caused by this very game.

Nat, or Natalie, Heather’s best friend also joins the mix. After having completed her Opening Jump, she spoke with Heather and the two decided they would split their winnings if either ended up the Panic champ. Nat also made the same alliance with Dodge, without his knowledge, that she really hadn’t planned on following through with. Along with Nat, the character of Heather’s male best friend, Bishop, who seems to always be there to help Heather and the others out whenever possible.

These are the main competitors that are followed throughout the competition, as they work hard to help one another out as the time continues and they face their individual fears along the way. Meanwhile, no one knows exactly who is creating these different games and plots, but they do intend on finding out, especially after an officer was killed during one of the Panic activities.

I could not put this book down, as there were many different twists and turns along the way and story lines that I wanted to see through. This intense book will definitely leave you satisfied at the end, while having fulfilled a successful understanding of each of the main characters. Lauren Oliver does it again with this standalone novel!


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