Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
Format: Paperback (library edition)
I missed this movie when it was in the cinema, so when I saw it in the library I thought I would pick it up to read before I eventually saw the film! I hauled it in a Library book haul and someone commented that the book was quite different to the movie, I can only agree from what I see in the trailer, but I can definitely say that I was completely underwhelmed by Nerve and can see how a movie would ramp this up 100% The premise in general sounded really exciting but there was so much to dislike about the books, I can’t bring myself to give it any more that 1 star.
Vee is the girl working backstage while her best friends are out there being the stars. Her parents have grounded her after she fell asleep in the garage with the gas on (even though she wasn’t suicidal, so this is just a punishment for a complete accident, and I don’t think grounding your hypothetically suicidal daughter is the most sensible move – wouldn’t you try and help her instead, and show more love instead of inadvertently pushing her away), which stresses her out on top of thinking that her best friend is moving in on the guy she likes. All of these things add up to her agreeing to do one of the dares for NERVE, a website/show that encourages teenagers to do stupid and risky things for other people’s entertainment. The dare she submits gets way more views than she was expecting (because her white tee-shirt gets wet *eye roll*) so she’s chosen to be part of the main dares, where she has the opportunity to win expensive and life-changing prizes.
Vee was the most boring and cliched character ever. She wasn’t well developed at all and even though she was revered and sensible to begin with, as soon as the bait of fame is put under her nose she’s ready to be the most daring person out there! Not batting an eyelid when she has to try and sell herself on the streets but having a sudden change of heart when the possibility of death is that little harder to ignore.
I didn’t connect with her at all, because I’m not the kind of person that would do stupid things where I would publicly make a fool of myself, even if I was paid to do it.
As part of the game, Vee gets partnered up with a guy called Ian, who’s mysterious and we never really get a clear backstory for him. Lee’s supposed to trust him from the off, but she’s so overwhelmed by how hot he is (she literally thinks ‘yum’) that is doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know him from Adam, because if he’s handsome then he’s trustworthy. (more *eye roll*ing)
I hated the romance between Vee and Ian. Their attraction to each other was instant, but then there was a lot of possessive jargon that I was not okay with – at least they don’t degrade themselves by getting into the make-out booth in the final dare part, but they were certainly obsessed with each other the entire time. When Tommy, tells her that she’s self-destructive and horrible, I have to say I was cheering him on!
The climax of this books was seriously one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read. So, although NERVE have been doing some pretty shady stuff, like disabling Vee’s phone so she can’t call for help, and divulging information that’s only on her personal ThisIsMe (Facebook) page. But then NERVE takes it way to far and puts a bunch of characters in a small room and gives each of them a gun. At no point in this section do the characters agree that they won’t kill each other no matter what and will just follow the instruction and REMAIN CALM. No, instead they have to be obnoxious and complete idiots and not care whether murder is on their permanent record. The whole it’s all a game thing and ‘we need to be the resistance’ felt like it was coming out of nowhere considering both Vee and Ian were pretty happy to play along. Also, the epilogue suggesting that they become celebrities was outlandish considering NERVE felt like it had a pretty niche American teenage audience.
Generally, I felt like the speed of the book picked up well for a thriller, but I have to admit that I found the first 100 pages rather boring. I didn’t have enough of an emotional connection to any of the characters and the dares in the beginning weren’t thrilling in the slightest.
Also, what the heck was the prologue? It felt like it came from a completely different book, and I was excited to read that book, but then it swapped onto a much plainer protagonist that completely took us out of the thriller/dystopian story and ejected us into a boring contemporary with a whiny girl attracted to all the wrong guys. (*eye roll* to the extreme)
Nerve was a complete let-down, but I’m still exited to see the film, because there’s definitely something in this concept worth saving! I just have to hope that everything that was lacking or underdeveloped is tense and fulfilled in the movie. This might be one of those books where the movie really is just better. As you can tell from this review, I did a lot of eye rolling, but I did finish the book within two sittings, so it was strangely addicting despite everything.