by Ryan, Jeanne

Selected to participate in an anonymous online game where dares are broadcast live online, Vee is tempted by incredible prizes and teamed with an attractive boy during a series of incrementally risky dares before they are directed to a secret location to compete in a life-threatening contest against other players.

Jeanne Ryan lives in Seattle, Washington.

After deciding to challenge herself to move beyond her usual behind-the-scenes comfort zone, Vee gets involved in a reality-style online game, NERVE, which requires players to take on increasingly bizarre and personality-distorting dares. The audience, termed Watchers, votes and comments via text messages, and Vee becomes a sensation-and finds herself being stalked. Ryan has created a credible game, as well as a realistic character and narrator in Vee. She is less successful in weaving together credible plot threads. Vee seems to crush on every guy she meets, from "normal" classmate Matthew to NERVE partner Ian and even brilliant but recently dismissible Tommy, and while these four receive essential character development, Vee's girlfriends remain mostly ciphers. Still, readers will likely remain tightly keyed into questions about what is going to happen to Vee herself, who is reminiscent of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl, translated into an American high-school girl. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

A girl who's always stage crew, never the star, finds herself in the limelight when she's chosen as a finalist in a disturbing Internet-based reality game. As Vee explains it, NERVE "is basically truth or dare, without the truth part," in which players are Watched by those who pay a fee to observe and a premium to record the game. Tired of always playing it safe, she performs an audition dare: Dumping cold water on herself in a coffee shop. Taped and uploaded to the NERVE site by her friend Tommy, the subsequent wet-T-shirt effect garners enough online attention that she is selected for a set of escalating dares that take her to the grand finals. With each dare, a commensurate prize inferred from her ThisIsMe profile is dangled in front of her. Between momentum and cupidity, she finds herself partnered with Ian, "a smokin'-hot guy who's eyeing me like candy," in a secret room in a Seattle nightclub along with five other players, who must simultaneously cooperate and compete in ever-more humiliating and dangerous stunts to win extravagant, personalized grand prizes. The commentary on today's life-as-public-spectacle society is both unsubtle and sound; the plot's nearer-future similarities to The Hunger Games are equally inescapable. If characterization and theme are obvious, the pacing is nevertheless relentless, and readers will find themselves flipping madly to the very last page. (Thriller. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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