Saturday, April 5, 2014
Vee is usually happy to hide behind the scenes. She literally works there during stage productions for her high school while her best friend and crush perform center stage. On the spur of the moment, she decides to try out for NERVE, a game dares broadcasted online, by humiliating herself at a local coffee shop. Because of an unforeseen reveal, she finds herself in the next round with a prize being dangled in front of her. After discovering her crush likes her best friend, Vee decides to be someone she's not and go through with the game. The Watchers, viewers who can watch either in person or on the internet, love her and she becomes and internet sensation. As the dares get riskier and the stakes higher, the game becomes dangerous, even life threatening. Can Vee beat NERVE with her family and friends intact?
Nerve isn't really what I expected, but it wasn't horrible. The concept is interesting. Teens perform a series of dares that increase in difficulty for money and prizes specifically tailored to what they want. Over time, it becomes clear that the NERVE company knows about every dirty secret they have to manipulate and motivate them. The book has a good commentary on consumerism and entertainment. How far would you go to get what you want? These people do some embarrassing things and hurt the people they love in order to get some prizes, money, and fame. They justified it to themselves in order to gloss over how bad things really were. People can get caught up in consumerism and forget about what really matters. Nerve explores how entertainment can mean people getting hurt and their privacy being violated. The contestants on the show have their deepest, darkest secrets laid bare for millions of people to watch. They only do those humiliating and hurtful things because there is a market and an audience to watch, This perspective might make somebody think twice before they watch a horrible and exploitative reality TV show.
I have a few problems with the book. When I saw the cover of Nerve and read the premise, I expected life threatening, dangerous situations for money and prizes like the film Would You Rather. It even says it's for fans of The Hunger Games, which it doesn't resemble in any way at all. It only turns deadly at the very end and not very impressively. The dares are a bit underwhelming. The lack of character development and the use of instalove is annoying. I didn't really connect to the characters at all. Vee's best friend also struck me as pretty horrible, humiliating her friend in front of millions for 15 seconds of fame. At the very end, my suspension of disbelief hit its wall and the story went into the realm of ridiculous.
Overall, Nerve is a plot driven novel that explores relevant issues on entertainment and consumerism. The writing did suck me in and I read the book almost in one sitting because I was curious about where it was going to go.
My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins