Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
Goodreads Summary: 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?
Review: Nerve is a tense and exciting read that will definitely get people talking. The plot itself is thrilling, and readers will be stuck to their chairs turning the pages to see what kind of dares NERVE invents next, and how Vee will pull them off. Yet underneath all the action, this book touches on some interesting and very relevant themes. Ryan hints at the cost of fame, how someone might act differently than normal if he/she knows a lot of people are watching, and how easy it is to manipulate what viewers see online or on TV. There are a lot of things to start a really good discussion here.
One plot-related question I was left with, however, is exactly what NERVE gains through hosting such an insane game. Obviously it cannot be money because they would get the same amount of viewers and sponsors if they put the players in faked dangerous situations instead of real life-threatening ones—as everyone currently believes they do anyway. Clearly NERVE is interested in sexual content (just look at the nature of most of the dares), but what precisely they want it for remains ambiguous, and the mystery looms large. If people are going to intentionally control others and risk their lives, I would like them to have a stronger motivation than just being voyeurs.
In regards to the romance hinted at in the summary, it happens very quickly—Vee and Ian are attracted almost immediately—but this is probably necessary if any romance is to happen at all in a standalone book. There is also the creepy possibility that they hit it off because NERVE knew the two of them well enough to know they would be compatible and therefore put them together. Ian also remains a really great character, and it is obvious why Vee, or anyone might be attracted to him. Ryan manages to make him more than a handsome daredevil, however, giving him depth with a backstory she slowly reveals throughout the novel.
The other characters are equally complex, including Vee herself, who must break out of her usual shell to perform these dares. There are also her best friend Syd, a bit of a drama queen who always wanted to try out for NERVE herself; Tommy, who films Vee’s audition dares and is absurdly loyal; and Matthew, the handsome leading actor in the high school play. Though their personalities are distinct, their actions are unpredictable, and readers will be repeatedly surprised by the plot twists they bring.
This is a must-read for anyone looking for a book to keep them on the edge of their seat.
Publication Date: Sept. 13, 2012