by Jeanne Ryan
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: September 13th, 2012
Vee doesn't know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an anonymous online game of dares. But whoever's behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lustworthy prizes and a sizzling-hot partner. With Ian on her team, it's easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another. At first it's thrilling as the Watchers cheer them on to more dangerous challenges. But suddenly the game turns deadly. Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare, or will they lose NERVE?
I decided to pick this book up on a whim while I was at the Library. The cover was shiny, the summary was intriguing, what more could I want? I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Nerve other than for it to be an engaging and fast read. I know from experience that stand-alone novels as short as Nerve tend to be missing that extra layer of depth, especially when they're written to entertain, and not necessarily to teach a lesson. So, as far as what I was expecting Nerve more than delivered. It was fast-paced, and kept me hooked for it's entire 294 pages, so much so that I read it from start to finish with no breaks. Nerve definitely wins a "most unputdownable book" award. If you're looking for something really grip your interest then Nerve is a perfect choice.
However, like other stand-alone "entertainment" novels, Nerve was missing that extra layer of depth, particularly in the characters. Vee was a fine protagonist. She was the kind of character that you can relate to because she isn't naturally bold and brassy. It's not till she really pushes herself outside her limits and decides to prove everyone wrong that she becomes a daredevil. I liked that about her because, especially in this kind of story, you can put yourself in her shoes and think "Would I do this dare? How far would I push myself?" Ian on the other hand was sorely lacking. Other than the fact that he's supposed to be gorgeous there's no real reason for the reader to like him or root for him. I could tell that Jeanne Ryan tried to give him depth by making him mysterious and slightly tormented, but instead it made me feel disconnected from him and it also made me distrust him. As for the supporting characters they were super stereotypical (best friend who is prettier/more popular, nerdy guy friend who likes you, etc.) and nothing to write home about.
Like I said earlier, the one thing Nerve excelled at was keeping me hooked. The plot was really well paced and with each new dare the stakes kept getting higher and higher causing the suspense to build. I felt like the whole dares reality show was ingenious, especially considering the state of reality shows these days. I could definitely see a show like this actually becoming a reality. However, some of the dares that Nerve touched on did not sit well with me. One in particular involved Vee having to walk around downtown pretending to be a prostitute. I think I speak for most people when I say that there is no situation where it is okay for a book character to pretend to be a prostitute. That just shouldn't be happening. Jeanne Ryan might have thought she was using it as a way to touch on a difficult issue, but ultimately I felt it was handled poorly. Other dares were also immature and rude, but this was the one that bothered me the most.
There were somethings that I felt Jeanne Ryan didn't explore enough (Like who are the NERVE people? Why does Ian want freedom so badly? What was Vee's accident?) but overall I felt like Nerve was a solid stand-alone novel. It did have some shortcomings but ultimately I enjoyed it, and if someone were looking for a quick suspenseful read I would definitely recommend it. Nerve gets 3.5 out of 5 ice cream cones.