After seeing an advert for the film adaptation, I picked a copy of Nerve up in the supermarket one day. I was unsure about this novel at first, but I really warmed up to it. It struck me as a more contemporary Hunger Games, set in modern times. It alarmed me how accurate Jeanne Ryan was with the people being so attached to their phones – this definitely reflects our society as it is now. What was an even scarier thought was the game of Nerve was something I could see happening in our society.
I think this novel definitely made a point about our society, one that could spark a whole debate. People are so attached to their digital lives these days, you’re the odd one out if you don’t have the latest smart phone or current popular social media account. Some of the prose felt a little awkward to begin with, but it settled further into the novel. The novel made a comment on how we view certain parts of society. Similar to the Hunger Games, which shows the Capital romanticising the Games when essentially they’re cheering on kids getting killed, Nerve shows the Watchers glamourising the horrible positions the game puts the Players in. Throughout the novel the dares slowly get worse, pushing Players further and further out of their comfort zones.
Vee is portrayed as a quiet, nervous character, which made parts of her dares a little bit unrealistic for me. More the dare where herself and Ian are wandering around a dodgy part of town, as she seemed too quiet to do such a dare. Ryan used bribes to try and explain why the characters did such outrageous dares, but for this dare in particular it didn’t seem to fit with Vee’s character. Unless this was also a comment on how people nowadays have to be seen with the latest brands, and that despite her quiet character Vee wants the same thing other people her age want, but it didn’t quite fit to me.
There was also a bit of a red herring when it came to Ian and Vee’s partnership. Ryan tried to portray a sense of uneasiness surrounding Ian and Tommy, suggesting that they weren’t all they said they were. At the end of the novel it meant that their relationships didn’t feel quite right – you were waiting for the plot twist to reveal the truth but it didn’t come. Ian and Vee’s relationship seemed to go from zero to serious really quickly as well, which felt a little unrealistic.
The ending felt a little bit of an anticlimax – the prologue had hinted at something darker at the end of the road for the characters, but when Ian and Vee seemed to get off much lighter than the prologue character Abigail, it felt a bit of a let down. Ryan hinted at something more sinister behind the scenes, but this didn’t really materialise. Ryan left her narrative open to further exploration of the story world, mainly to explain who was behind the game Nerve.
This was a good novel – it was full of promise, and I loved the message behind the narrative. Vee completely changed who she was as a person and didn’t think twice about hurting those she loved to try and get prizes for herself, only changing her mind at the last minute. I think it was definitely a comment on society today, and how some of us might not have our priorities straight – people are completely attached to their phones nowadays and think nothing of laughing at other people’s misfortunes – or schaudenfreude, as the Germans call it (taking pleasure out of another’s discomfort).
For example, despite the theme behind the Hunger Games, the film adaptation completely missed the point of the novel and did exactly what Suzanne Collins was making a comment on – they romanticised the Games and focused on the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. Nerve follows the same train of thought as Collins’ novel and comes across in a much more obvious way because of how contemporary the narrative is. I do think something like Nerve would be something that could happen in today’s society… I would give it a 4/5 because I did enjoy it, and I loooved the overall message (it felt like something I could write an essay on!), but it doesn’t quite reach the 5/5 because some of the first person narrative felt a little awkward.