Author: Lynne Matson
Published: Macmillan, March 4, 2014
Synopsis: On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die.
Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s naked in an empty rock field.
Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that she has to find a way to beat the clock, and quickly, in this thrilling debut novel by Lynne Matson.
My self-imposed wait is over and so is the world's... Happy Book Birthday, NIL!
I was immediately drawn into NIL for its concept. Waking up naked on a mysterious island that you only have a year to escape from or you die. I was always a huge fan of the TV show Lost and was excited to read a book that was similar to the show. I won an ARC of this book in the first #NILtribe giveaway back in December but I do monthly themes on my blog so I couldn't read it right away. I wanted to wait until closer to release day and decided to do a whole theme around island adventures and escapes. And boy is that exactly what NIL was, an island adventure and escape (I mean escape in every sense of the word).
What this book does a great job of doing is setting the tone of being trapped on a (mostly) deserted island. The world-building was great and didn't at all feel overwhelming. I really felt like I could visualize this beautiful and terrible island and the society the kids had created. It is part fear, part confusion, and part pleasure. There were moments of pure elation followed by moments of gut wrenching sadness. Lynne's writing and the plot really does a great job of helping the reader feel that dichotomy. The writing and the island lulls you into a false sense of security and then rips your heart out. It's a fickle beast who loves to remind you that life and time is precious. The island is as much a character as anyone else in this book. It is the real villain of the story. The other characters refer to the island as a she and speak about her with a sense of fearful respect and that's exactly what it deserves.
And besides the mysterious island, there was a host of interesting and diverse secondary characters that I was totally intrigued by and loved reading about. But I also loved our main characters and narrators Charley and Thad. I immediately connected with Charley and wanted her succeed. She is 6 feet tall and loves maps, I mean that's me! But she's also resourceful, intelligent, and strong in a subtle kind of way. What I liked most about her is that she has these critical thinking skills that no one else seems to have. She really wants to try and figure out the island and how to escape from it. We are constantly reminded that there is no luck on the island, but Charley doesn't look at escape as fate. She views it as a problem with a solution and tries to find the solution scientifically. Then there was Thad. He is an amazing leader, funny, and kind. He thinks about others before he thinks about himself. He also really feels the contradictory nature of the island and treats her as the one in control. I loved the romance between the two of them. I have heard a lot of people refer to it as insta-love but I didn't really feel that way. There was an instant attraction but their love seemed to grow over time and I totally see why Charley likes him. Their relationship was so sweet and it made me swoon and gush many times.
The plot and pacing was great as the book seemed to flow in a consistent and interesting way. Everything built to an amazing conclusion that totally surprised me. But what interested me the most was that even though the island is mysterious and I had so many questions and wanted explanations for what was going on, I never really seemed to try and solve or predict these answers. I do wish we had received a lot more answers about the island. The characters bring up a lot of questions about what the island is, where it came from, why they were there, and whether or not it is all for a reason but very few of these questions are really answered. I have so many unanswered questions! But despite this fact when everything was all said and done I was so satisfied by how thrilling and wonderful this book was, I had no regrets!
I give NIL by Lynne Matson a 9.5 out of 10
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of YA Thrillers, the TV shows Lost of Survivor, or is looking for something different to read. If you ask me NIL is a must read and one of my favorite books so far this year. Have you read NIL? What were your thoughts? Leave me a comment and of course Happy Reading!