Nerve – Jeanne Ryan

nerve goodreads coverA high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly.

When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it’s exhilarating–Vee and Ian’s fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they’re directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they’re playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?

This is a good book until you think about it. It’s a great short read with some good suspense and writing, but it makes no sense. Also Vee is so ridiculously naive it concerns me. If you are happy to ignore how unlikely the whole situation is (don’t worry I know it’s fake) then by all means go ahead and enjoy. It’s an easy read with a lot going for it. Like a successful movie (which was better than the book, but ssh don’t tell anyone) and an excellent premise. Well, it’s excellent until you realise how illogical the whole situation is.

I think we should start with how naive Vee is. I mean why would she think that Nerve was going to solve all of her supposed problems. Also Matthew is such a dick that it seems that Vee has that common problem most YA heroines find themselves with – a case of the bad boy syndrome. She has a really bad case of the bad boy syndrome actually if you take Ian into account. My god if she didn’t need the therapy from Nerve then she was definitely going to have to go to get over her need to have someone pay attention to her. Someone who didn’t actually care about her beyond their own needs. And yes I put Ian into this category. There’s no way he fell that quickly for her. But at least he didn’t get jealous and facilitate the possible murder of 7 people because he felt he had been wronged. If Tommy isn’t a prime example of men/boys who need to be taught that being told no doesn’t mean the end of the world then I don’t know who is.

Another excellent example of Vee’s naivety is how she is convinced that it really is all just a game, even when she could quite clearly see how the trauma had affected the previous players. How even at the end she was convinced that there was a way out when it was blatantly obvious there wasn’t one. Also, why would she fuck up the second to last dare? It literally makes no sense. It was almost as if she believed herself the side effects that everyone else was sure to receive. To me Vee is just a bit ridiculous and I understand that the author was probably trying to create a character that everyone could relate to. Needless to say I had a hard time relating. Maybe I’m more ruthless than the average reader but the whole point of the game is that you play to win and what’s the point in playing if you’re not going to win? If I played then I sure as hell wouldn’t back out like Vee and I would do everything I could to win – aside from kill a man of course.

The book is very very different to the film. So much in fact that the only similarities are the characters names. The film is set in New York and the book is set in Seattle.   (don’t hold me to this though) and there is nothing even remotely similar in the dares. Both work well as entertainment but this book was not written with a movie in mind – at least that’s what it felt like – so I can see why so much was changed. I am grateful for a lot of the changes, but the one I am most grateful for is the change to Ian’s haircut. The film character of Ian has a buzzcut whereas book Ian had his hair to his jaw and (to me at least) the former is a much more of a bad boy look. But then again maybe that’s because I view Ronan Lynch as the ultimate bad boy. Who knows?

Is it bad that I can actually relate to the other characters in the final round. Like of course they’re gonna be mad at Vee for messing things up. I know I sure would be. Although Micki’s constant threats of fighting Vee and killing her were starting to get a bit old if I’m honest. Like, we get it, you’re a bad person who will do what it takes. We don’t need to be told that every other line. I did appreciate how Ryan made 2 characters not straight, but I don’t appreciate how she made them both butch. That’s just representation that isn’t needed. It’s also a bit old. But at least she tried. That’s the important thing.

The other characters, whilst relate-able in their motives, are not exactly relate-able in their personalities as they didn’t really have one, or at least not one of depth. They were just an amalgamation of what we, the reader, expected them to be and I really hated that. I wanted them to surprise me and do something unexpected rather than just be a roadblock for Vee.

Vee’s motives also didn’t make sense. She literally could have just held off for another like 8 minutes and she would have won everything. She wasn’t even sabotaging them to get back at Nerve, just because she had convinced herself they were all going to die. That’s all it was. There was no heroic quest to shut down Nerve and make sure that it never happened again, she just wanted out of the game so she could go to bed. Like girl, if you had held off your sabotaging for another 8 minutes you could have walked out without almost being killed. She was just annoying.

I know that I have rambled on about all the negatives of this book, so really I should start rambling on about the positives. But I’m not gonna. It was a good book with a few flaws and a couple of weird mistakes. Aside from the flaws and mistakes it had good writing, character development and a cool premise so I’ve gotta give it 4/5 stars. Please read it and make your mind up about it yourself. Also, go watch the film, it was incredible.



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