Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
I usually reserve two stars for really bad books (the coveted 1 star remains, I believe, only awarded to that Cinderella mess from a couple years back). But this year when I look back on the books I’ve rated as three stars, they are all better than this one. So keep that in mind.
I picked this up because the Pajiba review of the film that came out earlier this year was pretty good. I’ve just gone back and re-read the review and it looks like the filmmakers took the names and premise from the book but changed pretty much everything else. Probably for the best.
In case you don’t know the premise, here it is: there’s a real-time live action game show that involves individuals signing up to complete recorded dares for prizes. Vee, tired of being outshined by her best friend, decides to sign up.
But let’s back up. The book starts out with a prologue that – spoiler alert – is never resolved. I mean, we figure out (sort of) what happens, but still. Not great writing.
Anyway, you don’t know the prologue never gets resolved until the end of the book. So yay for that. But the next glaring problem is that a 17-year-old in Washington state would be able to sign up for this game without parental permission. Moving past that, the naiveté of the main character is sort of mind boggling. I suppose it’s necessary for the plot, but I’m not sure.
It all takes place in Seattle over the course of I think three days, so the action is compact. The dares increase in difficulty / awkwardness / danger, until the ‘grand finale’ dare, which is so ridiculous. Like, I get that some young people make poor decisions, but come on.
Also, there’s this weird storyline about how maybe the main character tried to kill herself at some point, which doesn’t really totally get resolved.
Then the book ends, there’s an epilogue sort of (which again doesn’t address the prologue at all – it’s like it never happened), and then it’s over. I read it in a day, and I’m not mad I read it, it just wasn’t good.