Publishing Info: March 4, 2014 by Macmillan
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 18, 2014
Related Posts: Nil Unlocked (Nil #2), Nil on Fire (Nil #3)
On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. 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 lying 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 to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.
NIL was actually a pleasant surprise for me. I started reading not sure what to expect and I ended up really enjoying so many of the characters and their backstories as well as the mystery of the island of Nil. I was worried that the explanation of its mysteries would be cheesy because for the life of me, I could NOT figure out what was going on but I was very satisfied with the way everything played out!
Before I get into the details, let me tell you that my mind was racing with comparisons as I was reading — definitely in a good way. NIL was a really interesting concept and I kept seeing several mash-ups of my favorite books and TV shows… #1 was Monument 14 meets Lost. NIL has the great action that I loved in Monument 14 and teens of all ages who are strangers working together to stay safe and survive while at the same time figuring out the mystery of a deadly island. #2 was The Maze Runner meets Gilligan’s Island. The island of NIL has a lot more secrets than we first realize and I loved the comradery that the kids built. #3 was Lord of the Flies meets Survivor. The kids don’t always work well together and… well… sometimes people turn on each other.
One of the things I loved the most about the book was the range of characters we meet. The only humans on the island of Nil are all teenagers and the “gates” that bring people to the islands collect them from all over the world. They have a lot of differences but because they’re all stuck in the same odd and hostile situation, they easily band together to form a (mostly) tight group. Obviously they can’t force everyone to get along so it was interesting the conflicts that arise as well as how each of their “mortality rates” (each person only has 365 days on Nil before Nil takes them (aka, they die)) affects how the group gets along. I really enjoyed the diversity of the characters, both in age range and home country.
The mystery of the island totally stumped me — and that’s a good thing. I really did spend the entire book trying to figure out what in the world was going on and even as the characters were collecting clues, I was still totally in the dark. The best part? It was a GOOD surprise. I think I was so worried about the book because of the way Lost ended up taking a turn. A great TV show with so many mysteries and it turned kind of weird (especially the end) so with that Lost parallel already in my head, I think that’s where most of the fear came from! I wonder if Lynne Matson had been a fan of the show because she definitely didn’t let her readers down and the explanation how of Nil worked was wonderful! There was one main question I don’t think we ever got the answer to but not enough to really feel like I was missing something!
I also really appreciated the romance between Charley and Thad. Cute island boy meets cute island girl? Come on, you know that’s starting a romance. I can understand where people might feel that it’s kind of insta-lovey but it really didn’t come off to me like that at all. There are plenty of instances where I’ve been in their shoes and developed a huge crush right off the bat, then the more you get to know about a person the more you love about them. NIL was totally that. Combine a strong attraction with living with someone and spending all your time with them PLUS he’s your island guide and person who teaches you how to survive this crazy place? Oh, please. Giiiiirl, you are totally falling in love with him. I loved Charley & Thad’s fun and easy-going relationship. They had friendly banter, healthy competition, and really just clicked.
Overall, I really enjoyed his book! I know I went in a little hesitant but I totally had nothing to worry about. It was a really interesting sci-fi book that really stayed in the realm of science fiction and I love that Lynne Matson didn’t throw too much into the book either. I feel like the intricate workings of Nil could have easily gotten complicated and easily saturated with all kinds of science-fiction and paranormal aspects, but the explanation was unique and mostly concise and it totally worked for me!
Charley // Character Obsessions: Figuring out the island, getting to know Thad, the maze.
Charley was awesome. I totally connected with her and granted I’m not almost six feet tall but I get her feelings about being a tall girl! I really liked her a lot in the book too. She wasn’t overly helpless or overly smart or overly strong. I felt like she was really realistic and a girl a lot of people can relate to!
Thad // Character Obsessions: Finding a gate, Charley, leading.
Thad was a really nice male lead as well. I really enjoyed his relationship with Charley as well as his natural charisma and ability to lead a group. I really liked his character a lot and his chemistry with everyone on the island just really felt natural!
Kept Me Hooked On: Islands. Lost made me hesitant about deserted island stories (which I think I just discovered) and NIL totally redeemed that for me! A lot of times the story lines just don’t work for me and Lynne Matson just did such a great job with this book! I won’t doubt so much anymore!
Left Me Wanting More: Science fiction. I really enjoyed the reveal of how the island worked but I also would have liked just a TAD more connection and reveal in the beginning. I think once I found out how everything worked and the explanation why, I was just anxious for more!
I hope readers really enjoy this one as much as I did! I would definitely recommend it!
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(Click the cover to see my review!)