Review: “Nerve” by Jeanne Ryan


Title: “Nerve”

Author: Jeanne Ryan

Genre: YA, survival

Publication Date: September 13, 2012 (Penguin – North America)

Source: Swapped-for ARC

Summary: A 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?

☆: 3/5 stars – a fun debut, but could have been better.

Review: While “Nerve” is a great plot-driven story, I did have a few issues with characterization, the autenticity factor of the romance, and some other stuff with it. However, it’s a really great book in the sense that you can’t really put it down once you’ve started. You get an adrenaline rush – especially at the end of the book. while I can’t say that “Nerve” blew my mind, it was pretty entertaining.

Okay, so, at least there’s no love triangle in this one, guys. But there is, unfortunately, some insta-love going on. That much was clear, and even though I appreciate the most straightforward way to get around insta-love in YA lit is to use it in survivalist situations, this particular execution of getting around the insta-love trope kind of failed to happen. Why? “Nerve” is a game, and a voluntary one at that. While there is some survivalism involved throughout the game (particularly at the end of the book) – underneath the rather sinister guise of having prizes so tantalizing that one can’t help but be  attracted by them. I wouldn’t call that a dire situation, so the insta-love workaround here failed. I wasn’t impressed.

What I did like was the semi-hidden message of how destructive a consumerist culture can be – it can make you become someone other than yourself, do things you usually wouldn’t do, all to get things (not people) that you really want. This message is absolutely correct about how consumerist-driven our world culture is today, so I really rather liked that message.

As much as I did enjoy this one, there’s the same problem that happens in so many plot-driven stories: characterization suffers, and suffers hard. Aside from our MC and her bff, I only had a very vague sense of what the other characters might have looked like. I realize that this is a very easy trap to fall into as an author, so perhaps in this area, it needed one more draft to really get more of an impression of how the characters looked.

Unfortunately, the sensory imagery area kind of failed, too. The strongest sense of it was at the end of the book (once you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about), and only in those fifty pages or so. Which is really a shame – Ryan knows how to show instead of tell rather well, but she doesn’t really do it until the climax of the story. There are other examples where she did show instead of tell sprinkled throughout the book, but that’s what they are – just sprinkled. They need to be everywhere. I should be seeing everything instead of it having it told to me. Again, another draft would have been ideal for this book.

Final verdict? The entertainment value is pretty high, so I can’t completely disregard this book. It’s a great end-of-summer read, and I definitely enjoyed myself quite a bit when reading it. “Nerve” is out from Penguin on September 18, 2012 in North America, so be sure to check it out then and make your own decision about whether or not this book really does live up to its title.

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2 thoughts on “Review: “Nerve” by Jeanne Ryan

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! | birth of a new witch.

  2. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves: Week 16 | birth of a new witch.

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