Monday, March 17, 2014

Reviews: Panic by Lauren Oliver and Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

Pandry Park. Landry Parnic.

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver
Release date: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: No
Source: e-ARC
Length: 408 pages
Rating: An action-packed page-turner.


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.

For my very first Lauren Oliver book, Panic was a very pleasurable reading experience. While not perfect, it was engaging, fast-paced, and never let up. While you have to stretch your belief to breaking points at times to accept the mechanics of the adrenaline-fueled idiocy Olympics that is the game Panic, once you do, it's nothing but fun. Well, fun for us. Nobody's making us jump off cliffs or walk on planks or any of the other sundry death-defying acts forced upon Panic's participants.

Oooo, did I LOVE the challenges. Oliver's conception of the game itself is masterful. The twists she put on each event, the way she made my skin crawl--it was so enjoyable. It you're a total marshmallow, like me, you'll get a kind of thrill reading aobut people doing the things you'd never in a million years ever do (I am petrified of heights, and no amount of money could convince me to walk a narrow beam of wood above a fifty foot drop). While I did guess the major twist about 30% of the way before it was revealed, I still loved the way it fit together and fleshed out a few of the characters.

Sometimes the language went a bit off the rails--there were a few positively murderous metaphors--but mostly Oliver's prose is beautiful. From the bits of Delirium I've read, I know she leans towards lyrical, visual writing, but in Panic she manages to infuse the atmosphere with a dirty, scrubby, tenseness, the kind of beautiful you find in broken, cheap things and strong, bare characters.

Speaking of the characters, it took me a little while to connect with them fully, but Oliver gives you reasons to care about all of them (except, really, Natalie. I never really got her, nor her connection with Dodge). Heather and Bishop I loved in particular. Bishop is adorable, and Heather rocks. My chief issue with this book is the TIGERS. Yes, tigers. I loved them because a) one of my deepest fears is BEING EATEN BY THINGS and b) ARRRRRRGH, and yet I disliked, mostly, how they were employed. The resolution of the tiger storyline was half sickening, half eye-rolling. The way the finale builds is wonderful and awful because OMG so much dramatic irony and nonono stupid decisions and then... well, I rolled my eyes.

However, Panic is a super fun read, even with the tigers, and if you're looking for something action-packed and gritty, you should give it a try. Don't be scared by the length.

Review: Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
Release date: January 21st, 2014
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Series:#1 in the Landry Park series
Source: Purchased
Length: 384 pages
Rating: A surprisingly solid and enjoyable, though imperfect, science fiction debut.


Downton Abbey meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.

Honestly, I was wary of Landry Park, though I knew I'd give it a try. I'm a sucker for anything with gentry and pretty dresses, and I found the idea of a dystopian, Neo-Edwardian world pretty fascinating. But then again, I've been burned by "pretty dress" dystopians before, namely their lack of world-building. Color me surprised when Landry Park actually puts the time and effort into constructing a mostly believable future society.

This book actually is a bit Downton Abbey, dystopian style. The focus is on class warfare and inequality and social change. At the center of our story is Madeline Landry, heiress to t he Landry estate. She's expected to marry well and carry on her family's legacy, which stretches all the way back to the invention that changed the course of history and the establishment of the gentry. Madeline, however, is more of a grumpy, asocial bookworm, so I felt a certain amount of kinship with her right off the bat. She's also very clever and strives to become more socially aware. She'd be Sybil in Downton Abbey, wanted to change and help the world, though perhaps less winsome and charming. A bit more prone to hide behind plants at parties. (This is why I like her.)

I enjoyed Madeline as a character quite a lot, which kept me fully grounded even as some of the plot and worldbuilding became a bit hazy. Landry Park doesn't reinvent the dystopian wheel, though it also feels very different from most of the ones I've read. We're reading form the point of view of the priveledges. We get to attend fancy balls, comings out, dinner parties, and teas. Of course, we also get to meet with the Rootless, go to hospitals, watch battles, and incite riots.

The romance... well, I initially really liked it, and sort of gently shipped our central ship, and rooted for them to get together. I thought the inclusion of a second potential suitor for Madeline's hand to be a bit unnecessary, mostly because he as a character was unnecessary. Props to Hagen for quite a bit of diversity, with quite a few of the gentry being people of color or LGBT. I didn't realize this was the first in a series until after I finished (curses!), but I'm actually glad. I'd like to see what comes next.


  1. I've seen mixed reviews on LANDRY PARK, but still I requested it from the library. What you say about a relatable main character gets me a little excited- to say nothing of the Downton vibes. (I just finished watching season four and I must say, I'm craving more! ^^)

  2. Landry Park sounds legit! I've been wondering if I'd like it and from your review I think I would. It sounds like it had some issues, but still sounds awesome! Also, I don't know how I feel about Panic, but one day I might get around to reading it.

  3. I've been skeptical of Panic since i was let down by Lauren Olivers last few books and have heard panic hasn't been as good as Before I Fall & Deliruim but i does sound like the challenges are interested and i'm interested in finding out what the twists is (although i'll probably guess is pretty early on) & i haven't heard too much of Landry Park but the whole idea that its a dystopian told from the POV of someone who isn't starving is a nice change, although i don't know how i feel aboutt he unneeded love interest.
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  4. I haven't read Panic and given other reviews that I had read, I'm not so sure I want to read it.
    Landry Park is read and liked it well enough, even if it wasn't as amazing as I'd hoped!

  5. That was your first Lauren Oliver?!? I don't know if we can be friends anymore. JK. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I still like Before I Fall by her best, but I agree that this one was pretty good. I loved the idea of the game(s) because I do think that it's very possible that something like that would happen in today's world, but at the same time they're totally extreme.

  6. Good to hear you enjoyed both of these. I am hoping to get both of these for my birthday. *fingers crossed
    The tigers comment on panic through me off, but it made me even more intrigued.
    I am a fan of Downton so I just feel like I need to read Landry Park. Great reviews as always!

  7. Before I Fall is much better as far as Lauren Oliver goes, though you might be more tempted to read Delirium just to heckle Ellis with status updates about how much you love it, whether you are or not. Mine is an evil plan.

    The challenges and the concept were so much fun. I don't really believe it would be able to continue - the cops would catch them, but whatever. I mean, I think if it were possible, teen would totally do this.

    The metaphors definitely entered Shatter Me realms a few times. It would be interesting to reread Delirium and see if she does that. It was more lyrical in general, so it may just have fit better. I'm fairly certain Before I Fall didn't really do that.

    I never really connected with the characters, but eh. Also, you summed up the tigers part perfectly. BAHAHA, YOUR GIF.

    So okay Landry Park's world building is kind of ridiculous but also it was fun. I didn't super care about the ship, but it was cute enough. Also, I loved that she did something different with the gentry and also BALLS EVERYWHERE.


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