Author: Jeanne Ryan
Length: 7 hours
Narrator: Caitlin Davies
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Original Publication Date: 2012
Genre(s): Young adult, Thriller, Fiction
I’ll be honest—like everyone else, I read Nerve after seeing a trailer for the film adaptation, which I have refused to watch until after reading the book. It look awhile, but being so short, I decided it would be a great audiobook for a day or two at work. And I was right. Thrillers always make the day go by faster.
Vee is a behind-the-stage kind of girl. While her best friend shines in the spotlight both on and off stage, Vee does her makeup and walks in her shadow. So when the chance arises to do something out of character, Vee surprises herself and everyone else: she becomes a player in Nerve, a game where you complete dares for prizes. Seems easy enough—especially backed by her deliciously hot partner Ian—until…it’s not. As their popularity increases and the dares get more insane, Vee realizes maybe Nerve is less of ‘just a game’ than she thought.
Premise seems cool, right? I thought so. And it was pretty interesting. The dares weren’t really what I’d thought they’d be. In fact, they were all pretty sexual, which was disappointing, but what else can you expect from an angsty book like this. It was really cheesy, too. More so the writing than the events. Like, for instance, everything Ian said sounded fake and over the top. And though Vee’s dialogue wasn’t as cheesy, her inner monologue was. Extremely. It sounded very much like an adult thinking they know what a teenager sounds like, but are very, very wrong. The word “yummy” is not a word I suggest including in a novel.
So if you could get past some of that cringe-y stuff, it was an okay novel. It’s short, fast-paced, and pretty thrilling. I was enjoying it (for the most part) until the end, which seemed rushed. It wasn’t how I pictured the ending at all. It was too flushed out in some ways while also not answering the most basic of questions in another way. I don’t know. I guess it was just the wrong type of ending for me.
What really hurt the novel was the MC, Vee. She was one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever read, and probably the most annoying in the novel. She starts out alright, but as she dives deeper into Nerve, she becomes insufferable. She joined the game of her own volition. She continued the game voluntarily. And yet throughout the entire novel, she complains about the game and how evil it is. She’s shocked that they have all this info on her, but she posts most of it online. She’s upset that her friends aren’t supporting her, but she was rude to them. But it’s during the final dare stage that she drives me absolutely nuts. She got herself into this situation and then acts like it’s everyone else’s fault that she’s there. I really couldn’t stand her.
I’m going to once again use my girlfriend’s wonderful phrase and say that this novel is “chips for your brain.” If you’re looking for sustenance (a real piece of literary magnificence), don’t read Nerve. But if you’re at work and looking for a cheap thrill, it’s a quick, fun read (for the most part). It’s interesting to think about how ridiculous the story is, but scary to realize how easily it could happen. If you can tolerate Vee, it’s an alright read.