If a book has a beautiful or interesting cover, I will buy it. Fact. This has led me into some rather shameful purchases in the past (Fifty Shades, I’m referring to you).
Recently I have been a bit more discerning when buying books, and have an idea of what I’m looking for before I head to the bookshop. I watch a lot of booktube, and have a general idea of which new releases are duds. However, not long ago Waterstones had a 3 for 2 offer on YA books, and I didn’t have strong feelings about the free book, so I chose Nerve. I thought it sounded interesting and the cover was amazing. So I bought it. Technically it was free. It was a mistake.
From the blurb:
Are you playing the game, or is the game playing you?
Vee doesn’t know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an online game of high-stakes dares. But whoever’s behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lust-worthy prizes and a super 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 manipulative audience, or ‘Watchers’, cheers them on to riskier challenges. But things quickly get out of hand.
Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare? Or will they lose NERVE?
Vee is 17, a high school student and aspiring fashion designer. Her best friend Syd is the star of the school plays and a blonde bombshell, whilst Vee looks after the costumes and make up. Syd is dramatic and outgoing, Vee is quiet and thoughtful. They are quite different, but have been best friends since they were in kindergarten, and feel that their differences complement each other. Until a boy comes between them.
When the guy Vee likes makes a move on Syd, Vee is furious, and decides it might be time to try some new things, get out of her comfort zone. Be a bit more like Syd.
Vee completes a dare for the online game NERVE; players perform dares which are filmed, uploaded and can be viewed by “Watchers”, who subscribe to the feed. By playing, Vee is entering into the competition to be picked for the live rounds. For every dare completed Vee could win amazing prices. The dares seem harmless enough at first, but as Vee completes more challenges the requests become more dangerous. Vee is teamed with another player, the mysterious and sexy Ian, but can he be trusted? Is NERVE more than it appears to be? You have to play the game to find out…
This sounds like a really interesting YA thriller, and it has so many of the right ingredients, but it is just such a terrible book. I cannot emphasize how much I hated Vee. I have never encounted a protagonist who is naive, self-deprecating, conceited, and obnoxious at the same time.
There were a number of things that irritated me about the novel:
- NERVE has to be in capital letters everytime it is mentioned. I don’t know why I found this so annoying, but it was.
- NERVE tells people that they will win prizes, but does anyone actually receive them? I’d want to receive the first prize before entering into more elaborate dares. Especially since no one knows who is behind NERVE. It could all be a hoax to get people to do stupid things.
- How do NERVE know everything about Vee? Within 24 hours of Vee entering the competition they have accessed the confidential notes made by her psychiatrist… I’m pretty sure even government agencies can’t access information that quickly.
- Vee trusts Ian almost immediately. Really, you’re going to snog the guy you’ve known less than a few hours in a car on a secluded road, when you’ve supposedly just had your heart broken? Okay.
- Vee turns on her friend extremely quickly. They’ve supposedly been best friends since they were 5. She is incredibly disloyal, and obviously has been harbouring resentment towards Syd for a long time. Vee is jealous, selfish and insecure, an ugly combination.
- The dares escalate suddenly from innocent goofy fun to oh my goodness this is inappropriate and probably illegal behaviour. Vee half heartedly questions some of the tasks, but is easily led into doing some extremely questionable things.
- When everything starts to go wrong and it becomes clear that NERVE doesn’t have the players’ best interests at heart, (spoilers, not) Vee wishes “there was a way to go to the NERVE site and delete everything”. Or she could just stop doing the dares. No? Okay.
Overall I gave this 2/5 stars. I was tempted to give it 1 star. I still might change my rating. This is one book that will definitely be going straight to the charity shop. I am aware that it has been made into a film starring Emma Roberts, but I won’t be watching it.
Let me know if you have read the book or have seen the film in the comments below.