A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly...
When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it's exhilarating--Vee and Ian's fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they're directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they're playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?
Debut author Jeanne Ryan delivers an un-putdownable suspense thriller.
It took three days of waiting, but at four a.m. on a Sunday, the street in front of her home finally emptied of all Watchers. Maybe even crazies needed to sleep once in a while. She could use some rest too, but more than that, she craved freedom. It had been almost a week since she’d left her house.
She scribbled a note for her parents, threw a pile of gear into her car, and sped off, peeking into the rearview mirror all the way out of town and throughout the two-hour drive to the Shenandoah. The countless times she’d ridden these roads with her family had been filled with games, singing, videos, and sometimes just daydreaming, but this time, it was with a rising sense of panic.
Ignoring years of training by her parents to check in with a ranger when she reached the park, she left her car near the most deserted trailhead she could find and took off on a path where the foliage was on the verge of being overgrown. By early afternoon, she’d have to settle on a spot to set up camp. For now, she just wanted to disappear into the greenery. If she could evade the Watchers for a little while longer, this greenery would bring her some measure of peace, at least for a few days.
Her backpack weighed heavy on her shoulders as she pounded up the rocky hillside, pushing past ferns, and catching the occasional drops of dew that lingered on the leaves. The rushing sound up ahead spurred her on with the promise of a waterfall. It would be a blessed distraction from the constant rumination that had taken over her thoughts for the past twenty-three days. Damn game.
She swatted a low-hanging branch, dumping water and leaves on her head. Whatever, it wasn’t as if anyone were around to witness the bits of foliage plastered to her skin and hair. But the thought of other people led immediately to insistent, unwanted images. And fears. Fears that lived at the edge of her consciousness and seemed to take physical form, this time in the sound of soft footfalls behind her.
She stood stock-still, waiting, praying that the sound had been just her imagination. Her brain betrayed her a lot lately. Stop. Focus. Think.
The footsteps halted for a moment and then picked up again, faster. Yes, there was someone behind her. It was real. What now?
Hide behind a bush and let the person pass? It had to be a random hiker, probably looking for solitude the way she was. Still, concealment sounded like the best plan. She raced ahead to gain some distance and tucked herself within the arms of a lush rhododendron.
The footsteps became louder, their heaviness suggesting someone large. Was this the “consequence” those jerks who ran the game threatened if she didn’t make herself available to the fans? But no one could expect her to make nice with the jerks who called at all hours, the creeps who’d follow her into bathrooms, or the sickos who created that horrifying website with crosshaired images of herself and the other players. When she’d found that, she invented an illness that kept her home for the past week. But she couldn’t hide forever. And it wasn’t like she could get restraining orders for the whole planet.
Her breathing became quicker and shallower as whoever was behind approached. The steps were rhythmic, measured. Maybe they weren’t human. Funny, how the possibility of a black bear concerned her less than if the intruder were a fellow hiker. Or maybe the footsteps weren’t even real. This could all be a dream, manipulated in the same way her every waking thought had been during the game, and even after. It was getting harder to figure out what was truly happening. Like the note she’d found in a magazine when she’d snuck out to the mall: DEAR ABIGAIL—THE GAME ISN’T OVER UNTIL WE SAY IT IS.
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Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Comment down below if you remember the good ol' days back when Nintendo 64 was a prize in itself. Ocarina of Time FTW... I do realize this is only loosely related to the topic at hand. DEAL WITH IT.