The Granite Tower
ARTS & CULTUREBOOK REVIEW
NERVE–Would You Take the Challenge?
Park Jaeeun  |  jaspark1027@korea.ac.kr
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승인 2017.10.05  19:32:57
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▲ BACKGROUND IMAGE PROVIDED BY SHUTTERSTOCK.

"I don’t think you know what you are up against.” So she has been warned. Regardless, Vee, the main character of the young adult fiction book Nerve (2012), ventures into the world of ruthless dares, where individuals' privacies are sacrificed for public entertainment. What is even more interesting is that Vee willingly joins to win some of the most ludicrous prizes while outshining her best friend. The book Nerve is a quick read that anyone will feel compelled to finish in one sitting. Yet, after the book is over, one may wonder whether that one sitting dedicated to finishing the book was even worth it. 


The book Nerve is titled after the game in which the main character, Vee, decides to join. NERVE, the game, has amassed a multitude of audiences and profit over the years as it features young daredevils who are down to win, regardless of the danger it entails. Audiences turn into crazy fans, dismissing the fact that their enthusiasm towards the game would become a death sentence for its players. As the readers progress through the book, curiosity about how Vee defeats the odds will draw them in by the second.

The story starts from a mundane setting of a theater geek’s life who soon finds herself in the spotlight of the world. Vee challenges herself to complete one dare, which soon turns out to be a gateway drug that puts everything and everyone she values, including her own life, at risk. Throughout the story, she displays her craving for winning, hungry for the extravagant prizes each dare entices her with; nonetheless, her desire to win naturally evolves into her instinct to survive as the game gets riskier each time.

Written in a first person perspective, it is easy for the readers to understand why Vee made certain decisions she would not make otherwise. This includes why she enters the game and why she continued to take more challenges. While this kind of narration is an effective way to illustrate the nature of Vee’s character to the readers, it backfires by spoonfeeding too much information down the readers’ throats. One could definitely say less is more, as the author exposes too much of Vee that the readers could have figured out on their own. If the beauty of writing in first person would be to narrate a story through the eyes of the character, its drawback would be lack of mystery.

It is no wonder that the movie Nerve (2016) is more known and acclaimed than its original book version. While the movie also focuses on Vee, it takes a third person perspective. the audience enjoys complete freedom to interpret the events and the characters. Moreover, the movie presented a much more thrilling drama that kept the audience alert. For instance, Vee’s first dare in the book was to spill cold water on herself while exclaiming, “Cold water makes me hot!” whereas this scene was replaced by making out with a stranger in the movie. Furthermore, Vee’s last dare in the book was to play with a loaded gun with the rest of the players. In the movie, however, Vee was compelled to shoot her opponents. The movie adds more spice to the story that leaves the audience wondering whether it will be possible for Vee to push herself and accomplish the impossible.

Ultimately, if one wishes to absorb the genuine thrill of Nerve, it is suggested that he or she watch the movie instead of reading the book. The book, in its essence, contains an amazing plot that was a success in its own right. Though the film has adapted an almost identical plot to the book, the film has done a much better job in narrating not only the plot, but the thrill of the story to its audience. Nevertheless, adding Nerve to one’s reading list is a challenge that anyone can take up, just as Vee did with NERVE. 

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