Saturday, August 6, 2016

"Nerve" by Jeanne Ryan

WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS

My rating: 2/5 stars

I jumped into this read after seeing the movie trailer. The premise looked interesting, and my general rule is always read the book before watching the movie. I didn't have high expectations, so I wasn't too disappointed. The plot had great potential, but overall, it just wasn't well-developed. As others have mentioned in their reviews, it feels like a mash-up between Lauren Oliver's Panic, The Selection, and The Hunger Games.

My two biggest disappointments with the book were 1) the cliche characters and interactions, and 2) the writing style. The main character Vee is, of course, your average high school girl who works behind the scenes, literally. She helps with the plays at her school, she feels overlooked, and she's crushing on an attractive loser. Her best friend is the school knockout who takes center stage, also literally. After quickly getting over loser guy, she falls lightning-fast for mysterious Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome (Ian). Quiet and smart guy Tommy is not okay with this, of course, because he likes Vee but doesn't tell her. (Public Service Announcement: Good communication between opposite sexes circumnavigates a lot of problems, but that wouldn't make for an interesting plot now, would it?)

More on Vee: Vee is short for...what? Veronica maybe? Nope. Venus, as in the other name for the goddess Aphrodite. Average girl Vee's real name is Venus, naturally. (*facepalm*) Vee also has tension with her parents because they think she tried to commit suicide because she almost died after falling asleep in the garage with her car still running. And for some reason, this is a big hush-hush secret. Why would her parents not believe her, and why wouldn't people assume it was an accident? There's nothing in her life that hints at a cause for depression or suicidal tendencies. It's confusing. It's also confusing why Ian sees her as the cat's pajamas and the bee's knees, but why should this be surprising? The hot guy and the average Jane character always end of together, miraculously. The author also quickly reveals that Ian's dark secret was that he was abused in the past as a kid, but it's a topic that's only briefly mentioned and not further developed. (Ian reminded me quite a bit of Tobias from Divergent, but not as well-developed of a character.)

The dares Vee and Ian take on are also a little extreme. For one dare, Vee has to pretend to be a hooker and snag a potential client for a certain amount of money. During her stunt as a street walker, she gets cussed out, offered help from a minister who thinks she's actually a young girl in trouble, and solicited by a *drumroll* cop. So she has to run from the cops for a crime she wasn't actually doing. It's all really stupid...except...

That it's believable. As I kept reading the book, I kept thinking this is really dumb what these kids are doing, but this could happen. In the age of internet stardom and materialism, people would do these dares today. And I think that is what intrigued me the most, that this could actually be a reality.

Ok, the writing style: There are some super awkwardly written sentences describing the attraction between Vee and Ian. Here are some of my "favorite":

"That Ian guy strokes my fingers like a mini harp."
"He tastes like berries, the kind you can't get enough of."
"I'm not sure how much I can trust him yet. Certainly not with my life, but probably with certain parts of my body." (This one just makes me want to slap Vee.)

I also don't know what the point of the prologue is. What happens to that girl? Is she shot? Does she survive? The book also ends on a slight cliff hanger that's not resolved. It leaves the book open to a sequel.

Basically, all this is to say the ideas were interesting, but poorly executed. I think the movie might be good, and this is one of those strange and sad instances when I hope the movie is better than the book.

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