Book Review of Nerve
written by WinterSoldier
“Why should I pay to watch when I can be paid to play?”
Nerve is the latest YA book to have a movie adaptation but that wasn’t the reason why I wanted to read this book. One, the cover of Nerve is oddly enticing and two, the premise itself was interesting to me.
The book is labelled as ‘for fans of The Hunger Games’ but I disagree; it’s more suited to fans of Fear Factor. Nerve is an online game that challenges participants to perform ‘dares’ on camera. The dares become more and more difficult but there’s always a ‘fabulous prize’ to be won.
The protagonist, Vee falls into the typical YA trope – the ‘I’m pretty but not so pretty and not so noticed as my best friend’ trope (we all know at least 5 characters that fit into that trope, right?). She’s determined to step into the limelight and she thinks participating in Nerve is the way to do that – plus with a chance to win some expensive shoes, it’s an offer she can’t refuse right?
The plot of the novel is weak – that’s the best way to describe it. Nerve opens up with a cliff-hanger prologue, leaving you wanting to read the rest for some answers. Those answers are never really given to us and once you’ve finished the book it’s a moment of “hang on? Was that prologue necessary?”
The novel focuses heavily on the dares to push forward the plot and that’s where it fails. The dares themselves are incredibly dull and Vee’s actions and emotions usually involve her breaking down in tears or shouting “someone call 911!” She spends a lot of the book complaining about her life, about her best friend, about boys and about Nerve (which she willingly signed up for by the way).
Another issue with the book is how undeveloped the characters are. Ian is the secondary character and is the one who Vee participates in the dares with. He’s shown as the ‘mysterious dreamy bad boy’ and he remains as an forgettable cliché. His lack of character and development makes the romance very unconvincing. The side characters, or Vee’s ‘friends,’ are a pretty unfriendly bunch. Again, they are reduced to classic YA tropes – the gorgeous and talented best friend, the guy Vee has a crush on but never notices her and the guy that has a crush on Vee but Vee never notices him. I don’t need to expand on these characters (and I can’t because I can barely remember their names) but they were nothing more than pieces used to create tension for Vee.
The last third of the book is where most of the suspense is contained. It’s where the danger that I was promised starts to appear and it’s not what I expected. I had wanted more thrills, and more horror and definitely more life-threatening situations (especially considering the prologue). The only thing Nerve delivered on entertainment, and the novel’s climax was one of the few moments in the book where I sided and almost sympathised with Vee. But aside from that, there aren’t many moments that I liked or enjoyed.
Nerve promises an action-packed novel and it’s a huge let-down. It’s forgettable, weak, and lacks in character and depth. It is however a very quick and simplistic read. There’s also a message behind the novel – about the control consumerism has over us and our actions.
3 out of 5 stars
Thank you to WinterSoldier for writing this blog and designing the banner!