Review Detail

4.2 3
Young Adult Fiction 10261
Overall rating
Writing Style
First off, I need to have a chat with the people on Goodreads who shelved this as “Dystopia,” because that’s the only reason I didn’t read Nerve sooner. Yeesh. I thought it was going to be something similar to The Hunger Games in a reality-tv-where-kids-fight-for-their-lives kind of way. Guess who was wrong? This girl.

In a world that’s probably only about 5 or 10 years ahead of our own, Vee is a sweet, quiet girl who’s tired of standing backstage and waiting in the shadows. When she gets the chance to compete on NERVE, an Internet game based off of dares, she jumps at the chance. Over the course of one crazy night, she faces embarrassing things, scary things, and downright deadly things, all in the name of winning prizes and standing in the sun.

Throughout this novel, Jeanne Ryan did a fantastic job of keeping the suspense and thrill to an absolute maximum. I was on the absolute edge of my seat during a lot of the dares that NERVE came up with. For those who enjoy intense thrill rides, Nerve surely won’t disappoint; this book was non-stop action for over 80% of the time, and Ryan did a great job riding the waves of emotional highs and lows as the dares Vee completed became serious or silly or serious again.

Vee, I think, wasn’t the most fully developed character ever, but when you consider that we’re only inside her head for about 12 hours, I think I’d be willing to let that slide. I do have to complain about her love interest, Ian, though—12 hours is a short time to get to know someone, but the author managed to convey his relationship with Vee realistically, and this book certainly wasn’t a case of instalove. However, because the people behind NERVE are so focused on psyching Vee and the other players out, she wasn’t sure if Ian was trustworthy, and neither was I. It was difficult to transition from view him with approval even as I doubted his motives.

On that note, though, I did love how well Ryan achieved the elements of a psychological thriller in Nerve. The uncertainty and adrenaline rushes that Vee had while playing the game were translated very well onto the page, and the twists NERVE threw at her always caught me by surprise. As a reader I was always in doubt as to how save Vee really was—if NERVE was just messing with her or if she really was in danger.

The end, also, was absolutely fantastic. The last few paragraphs were so perfectly creepy and had a great “gotcha” factor. I seriously hope that there isn’t a sequel in the works, because in my opinion, adding on to things after that final sentence would literally ruin everything Ryan achieved with this book.

Altogether, Nerve was an edgy, edge-of-your-seat ride that grabbed me and didn’t let me go until the very last page. The premise and execution of this novel were brilliant, and I think Ryan has a lot of creative talent to have pulled this off. I look forward to her future novels (even if one of them happens to be a sequel to Nerve).
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