After an attack lands her in the wrong bathroom, Sam meets Eli who offers to provide help. Faced with the return of her possessive ex-boyfriend and the blossoming of a new romance, Sam must find the strength inside herself to face her anxieties head on.
The book's lead Samantha is suffering from severe panic attacks. Though I felt pity for her situation, there were times when I felt her attacks were not described well; therefore, the book became disinteresting. However, this changes as Samantha's attacks intensify. The more severe the attack, the more Paige used powerful descriptions that left me stunned. At times I could feel the agony that Samantha had to endure, which helped to make the plot more authentic.
Not only does Samantha suffer from anxiety, but she has a dysfunctional home. Her mother is so indifferent to her disorder - she often accused poor Samantha as faking sick to cut classes. I feel that this character represents the majority of people who are oblivious to Samantha's disorder. It is often overlooked and deemed intentional. This is a sad reality, and I am glad Paige included it. Her father is absent, and Samantha prefers it that way. However, because of her past with her father, Samantha is determined to resist confiding in others. She does not want to feel that pain again.
Paige did not attempt to make this book an information guide on anxiety, so I was not surprised with its romantic element. Eli, a handsome swimmer, feels an impulse to help Samantha on her turbulent journey. He is more than his looks, as he makes Samantha a priority. He is trying to rescue her. Despite his helpful intentions, I found Eli to be mostly corny. For instance, he calms Samantha down by singing sweet, mushy songs in her ears. Though it is a proven tactic to relax one's mind, his singing became annoying sometimes. In a nutshell, he is a bit creepy. The romance between the lead pair escalates too fast, but I assume it is because of how desperate Samantha is (not for male companionship) but for someone who truly cares about her well-being.
Because of the repetitiveness of Samantha's attacks which are integral in Don't Panic, I began to convince myself that the plot was flat. Interestingly enough, the plot takes a drastic turn with the introduction of Chad - Samantha's ex. He is a complete jerk, and he just adds more pressure on Samantha. Thanks to the Eli versus Chad conflict, Don't Panic became more interesting to read. I wanted to know what Samantha would do with the both of them, and I am sure other readers will be intrigued as well.
There is not a generous use of figurative language, which was a downfall. I think a touch of more metaphors, for instance, would have enhanced the book's readability. I do recall the extended metaphor of a raging sea during a storm being compared to the spontaneity and fluctuation of Samantha's panic attacks. The book was also malnourished in its imagery. All in all, Paige's writing was satisfactory - plain yet didactic.
I commend Paige for tacking this subject, and I hope it serves as a beacon for those suffering from anxiety. I also hope it creates more awareness.
"I'm a big girl wearing big girl panties and I control myself." Samantha , "Don't Panic"
3 / 5