The Monday Review: Dare or Die?

Nerve By Jeanne Ryan

Vee is a backstage girl, used to playing second fiddle to her popular best friend, Sydney. But after the two get into a fight Vee decides to do something out of the ordinary. She applies to be a player on the game NERVE where player are challenged to do increasingly difficult dares in public. At first it’s just about having fun and winning great prizes. But before the night is over the fun is gone and Vee just wants to get out of the game alive. 

nerve-jeanne-ryanI did not want to put this book down. The beginning is a little slow and typical. The main girl has a gorgeous and popular best friend and she feels like she’s trapped in her shadow. She’s crushing on this popular boy who isn’t all that nice to her but she’s just glad he’s paying attention to her at all. Then Vee gets involved with NERVE and things pick up pretty quickly.

Despite the fact that she applied to be a player in NERVE Vee really doesn’t enjoy doing the dares. But the thing that bothers her the most seems to be the way her actions are affection other people rather than how uncomfortable she is.

But it’s not until the game moves out of the public and into a locked room with other players that Vee and the reader realize just how dangerous this game really is. And even though Vee repeatedly begs the Watchers for help, no help ever comes; which takes the thriller and turns it into a more serious message. Although it’s set in modern times and society it suddenly feels like something akin to the Hunger Games. Where everyday citizens watch other people get tortured and potentially killed for the fun of it. Only in this story there is to capitol controlling everyone with an army, people are choosing to watch and be entertained. Choosing to believe that the players aren’t in danger. And the players don’t get reaped, they volunteer.

Overall it’s a great book. It’s intense and fast paced and keeps you riveted. And it casually slips in a commentary on our society without coming across as heavy handed or didactic. The only thing I was unsatisfied with was the best friend Sydney. Despite everything that happens in the book Sydney refuses to acknowledge that she was ever less than a perfect friend to Vee, putting all the blame for their fighting on Vee. And even when Sydney gets dragged into the game and her life gets threatened, she still sees it as a game not the dangerous life and death situation that it is.

But Sydney aside this is a fantastic book and everyone should make an effort to read it and then watch the movie if you haven’t already!


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