Panic by Lauren Oliver
In her newest novel, Panic, Lauren Oliver moves away from her YA dystopian series, Delirium and back to the realistic fiction genre of her debut, Before I Fall.
Panic tells the story four teens spending the summer in Carp, a small town in the middle of nowhere. Hard-hit by the recession, Carp has few opportunities for young adults, and all four teens are looking for a way out of town.
Thus, they end up involved in "Panic", a summer game started years earlier, where just-graduated-seniors participate in a series of progressively more dangerous challenges. Those who complete a challenge move on to the next one, and ultimately, the teen left at the end will win $60,000.
Oliver switches between the perspectives of four of the main characters. Each has their own reasons for participating -- one just wants to pay for college, one is trying to get away from her abusive, alcoholic mother, and each has secrets that they're keeping from the others.
Panic is fast-paced and gripping, and readers will root for each of the characters to succeed, even as they compete against each other. Those who enjoyed Oliver's earlier novels will recognize her style, even in a different genre.
If you enjoy Panic (or while you're waiting to read it), check out Lauren Oliver's other YA and youth novels (including Liesl and Po -- review by Ashley). Readers who enjoy contemporary novels about teens in tough situations may also enjoy the works of Katie McGarry (including Pushing the Limits) and Laura Wiess.