Book reviews

Book Review: NERVE by Jeanne Ryan

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“ARE YOU PLAYING THE GAME OR IS THE GAME PLAYING YOU? 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 lust-worthy 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 Ian and Vee risk their lives for the grand prize dare, or will they lose NERVE?”

Like most people, I’m sure, I read this book because I wanted to watch the movie. I first saw this book on Bookoutlet.com. When I read the summary, it was not something that I was interested in reading. Then maybe a few weeks to a month later, I saw the preview for the movie for the first time and really wanted to see it. The movie looked so good! So with high hopes, I got on Bookoutlet.com and ordered the book.

I ended up being extremely disappointed.

I don’t really know what I was expecting. Maybe the movie trailer gave me too much hope for the book. Or maybe my nagging book slumpiness contributed to my disappointment. But at the end of the day, I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

The book was a simple read and a quick read. One can easily finish this in a day or two, maybe even a few hours depending on how fast you read (I do consider this a Pro). The book is also told in first person from the voice of Vee. But the writing was a bit too simplistic for my taste. It almost felt like the author was too old to be writing for the audience this book was intended for (teens, I am assuming) therefore the writing style felt odd. Forced…a little disjointed maybe? I can’t put my finger on it exactly but I had a problem with the way the author phrased things and the certain ways she chose to describe things. For example, using the word “yummy” to describe a person’s body parts or muscular definition. Or, here is a quote for another example of something that bothered me: “Next to me, Ian sways his shoulders and hips, moving as smoothly as a straight guy can”. Like…what?? So had he been any “smoother” with his dancing, she would have thought he were not straight? This sentence made no sense to me and I was confused as to why the author chose to use it, along with some others.

While the story is an easy read, it was not quite addictive enough to keep me reading. This book took me about a week and a half to finish. A book less than 300 pages NEVER takes me that long. I will be blunt and say that I felt Vee was very stupid and never thought about the consequences of things until they were actually happening. There were TONS of major red flags that should have alerted her that this game was dangerous, starting from the first chapter of the book, and she refused to see them. She was way too easily swayed to keep doing dares so everything felt entirely too superficial. All the characters cared about were material possessions.

Speaking of the characters, I did not feel like I knew any of them. Even the main characters, Ian and Vee. Everything was very surface level. And for the other characters that were in the NERVE game, we didn’t get to know them either. Even at surface level, none of them were likable characters. They were a diverse cast of characters but the author did what everyone hates when it comes to wanting diversity in book characters. It felt like she included a diverse cast just so she can say she did and check “diversity” off of her list of what to include in her book. We have the white girl with a million piercings in her face, the Asian girl, the dark-skinned guy (who I am sure is black but of course she did not just go ahead and say he was black), the beefy red head jock who may or may not be on steroids, the curvy girl, the nerdy guy, the blonde star-of-the-show who gets all the guys, the simple, boring, and predictable girl (this is Vee), and lastly the super good-looking/sexy/plump lip having/yummy Ian. (Although not direct quotes, these are actual words used as descriptions in the book, yall).

For the romance aspect, I did not feel the connection between Ian and Vee. I know that going through hard times together such as doing dangerous dares can bring people closer together but they still did not know each other. Vee’s attraction to Ian seemed very shallow and I grew tired of her overly sexy and perfect descriptions of him.

The book also had a bad ending. Again, it was very surface level and I feel that nothing was solved. Was it supposed to be left open like a cliff hanger? Is there supposed to be another book? I’m not sure. But I am sure that I did not like the ending. It wasn’t enough. By the time I got to the last few chapters of the book, I honestly just felt tired.

I will say though, that an underlying lesson that comes with this book is that teens (everyone, really) needs to be more cautious with the information they post online and the types of apps we download to our phones. What can seem like simple fun can quickly turn dangerous. Stalkers are real. Technology hackers are real. Peer pressure is real. And material wants should not be placed over your or anyone else’s safety.

OVERALL

Pros:

  • Easy read/simplistic writing
  • Short book/ can be finished quickly
  • Good overall lesson

Cons:

  • Writing was too simplistic for me (I included this as a pro also since some people may like this)
  • No character depth
  • Unnecessary romance
  • Unlikable characters
  • Checklist character diversity (see fourth to last paragraph if you are confused with what I mean here)
  • Bad ending

I give this book a 2 out of 5 stars and would only recommend this book for people who need something to pass time or want to know where the movie came from.

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