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)