by Sharon M. Draper
Format: ARC received from Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for my honest opinion
Midnight Minute: A young dancer is kidnapped and she and her friends struggle with the immediate aftermath.
This gripping and chillingly realistic novel from New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper shows that all it takes is one bad decision for everything to change.
Diamond knows not to get into a car with a stranger.
But what if the stranger is well-dressed and handsome? On his way to meet his wife and daughter? And casting a movie that very night—a movie in need of a star dancer? What then?
Then Diamond might make the wrong decision.
It’s a nightmare come true: Diamond Landers has been kidnapped. She was at the mall with a friend, alone for only a few brief minutes—and now she’s being held captive, forced to endure horrors beyond what she ever could have dreamed, while her family and friends experience their own torments and wait desperately for any bit of news.
From New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper, this is a riveting exploration of power: how quickly we can lose it—and how we can take it back.
~Okay, I was a bit confused in the beginning- I thought the entire book would be about Diamond, but the book actually has pov of 4 characters. Although I wasn’t sure I liked this set up when I first began the book, I think it worked. It also keeps the book from being too horrific, which could have happened if told only from Diamond’s point of view. The other chapters are from the pov of Justin, Layla and Mercedes.
~This is a book about dancers! I really had no clue before I started reading. It was like a Fame meets Law and Order: SVU episode. I love dancing, even though I have all the grace of a baby elephant on ice.
~It also took me awhile to adjust to the teen speak throughout the novel… either it lessened or I adjusted- I suspect the latter because even though I’m 35, I can still party with the youngens. Or not, because I just used the term youngens.
~I have to say, it was nice to read a book that wasn’t about a bunch of white, rich kids. Not that any of these kids are living of Ramen noodles and dumpster diving, but several of the dancer’s parents struggle to pay the fees to their dance academy. It’s nice to see a bit of realism when it comes to families and finances.
~Because the dance school that main character Diamond attends is putting on a performance of Peter Pan, every chapter opens up with a quote from the book Peter Pan, which I loved and thought worked really well with the story and what the characters were going through. Who knew?
~Although I did not bond instantly with the characters (except Diamond and her phone charger forgetfulness), it didn’t take long before I was able to empathize. Leila’s storyline in particular felt very important in our current society and it is from her trials and tribulations that I think most teens will identify with and learn from.
~Diamond willingly goes off with her kidnapper (this happens early on, so I don’t feel it’s a spoiler), and his ruse was fairly clever. I wouldn’t have fallen for it, because I know that the vast majority of actors used in the Harry Potter film were British (I think there were only 2 exceptions), so I would have called “Thane English” instantly on that bullshiz. Truth! However, no middle age hottie is ever going to attempt to kidnap me by telling me that I’m perfect for the movie version of Peter Pan, unless they’re casting a human as the crocodile…
~Layla and her relationship with Donny was all too real, and I really hope this helps some young women recognize that it’s not a healthy romance. In contrast, Steve and Mercedes was exactly the kind of relationship teens should have- fun, cute and non-threatening.
~Mercedes, who is at the mall with Diamond when she goes missing, kind of fills in for the reader. It’s easy to identify with her, the guilt she feels over separating from her friend, comforting Diamond’s family, and counseling her friend Layla- although she is far less judgmental towards Layla than I would have been. Mercedes (despite having the ridiculous last name of Ford) is the most grounded of all the characters.
~Speaking of ridiculous names- there is a character that is discussed, not really seen- who is named Magnificent Significant Jones… Um, no, just no, future parents of America. Listen to Nancy Reagan and me, Just Say No!
~For the music lovers out there, this book is full of songs, and they play a very important role to the story. I think this will particularly appeal to the YA set, who have playlists for every mood and every situation.
~A lot of horrible things happen to the characters in this book. They survive mostly because of the friendships they have forged at the dance school. The bond between all these very different characters is a beautiful thing.
~I like butterflies, and I get the whole connection to the original kidnapping book The Collector, but I’m really over this butterfly on the cover thing. And seriously, the butterflies are almost always blue, what up with that?
Justin Braddock- he starts out the book and catches a lot of grief for being a male dancer, he’s also way more evolved than most high school boys.
Layla Ridgewood- she’s kind of the “It” girl, but she’s got problems under that pretty facade.
Mercedes Ford- fun loving and cheerful, she is a welcoming lightness to the story.
Thane English- liar, liar, pants on fire.
Zizi Chang- I think she was meant to be an adorable character, but she is to this book what Jar Jar Binks was to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Thankfully, Draper did not give her her own chapters.
Shasta Landers, and Ma and Pa Landers- the parents get some face time, but little Shasta is adorable, and I loved her interaction with Mercedes.
Donavan “Donny” Beaudry- Layla’s boyfriend and former friend of Justin. Donny Spoiler (highlight if you want to be spoiled or have already read the book): He wins my Chris Brown Douche award- no offense to Chris Brown fans, but I have zero tolerance for men who abuse women. Zero.
Panic was not what I was expecting. In the end, I really liked it. I’m glad it wasn’t extremely graphic, because Draper could have easily gone to an even darker place than she does. This book didn’t need that to be a page turner and to keep me invested in the characters. Panic is a fast read (I read it in a day) and I will definitely be looking out for Draper’s future and past works.
Sharon M. Draper — Website |Sharon Draper
Panic gets a Midnight Book Rating of: