I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Before I Fall back in the day (I can't believe how long ago that actually was... it feels like tomorrow). I read the first book of the Deliriumtrilogy when it was released, and actually quite liked it, but I feel like I'm really bad with keeping up with series, so I still haven't read the 2nd and 3rd book in the trilogy. When I heard that Oliver is working on a new contemporary novel, I got really excited, becauseBefore I Fall was so GOOD. Panic, a story centering around a summer tradition in a small New York town is that book, and wow, it was pretty good!
Heather lives in Carp, a small New York town where nothing really happens. Except Panic - a town tradition for the graduating high school class. The day after the graduation, the students who want to participate attend the jump, the starting of a summer-long chain of challenge, each more dangerous and extreme than their predecessor. With a sizable price money in the horizon for the winner, Panic has become popular among the youth - despite the past casualties and the danger, the graduates are willing to fight for the money - and the change that it would give to leave Carp.
Heather is an interesting character and it was a delight to get to know her through Oliver's writing - she is strong and independent, but also has her weak spot - a guy she thought she loved and who now is with someone else. Seeing him with another girl pushes her to the edge - and right into the challenge. With a good-for-nothing mother and a little sister she wants to protect, Heather starts to understand that the money she could win from Panic would help them to start again.
In his mind, Dodge is the perfect competitor for Panic because he does not fear anything. What motivates him to participate is a wish for revenge, a wish to punish someone for what they have done. But as the challenge goes on, Dodge realizes he might not be as invincible as he thought. And when feelings and safety of people he cares about get involved, he realizes he might have to slow down.
Oliver's Panic is a well-written, entertaining young adult novel that deals with the issues and problems of growing up, trusting yourself and people around you, and of taking risks, both in friendships and in love. The novel is beautifully written and the characters are interesting and rounded - they are not perfect, but they are trying their best. If you liked Before I Fall, you'll probably like this one as well.